LEND Occupational Therapy Fellowship

About the program

Diversity is a core value of the Institute on Development and Disability at OHSU. We believe that the educational environment is enhanced when diverse groups of people with diverse ideas come together to learn. The Institute on Development and Disability Occupational Therapy (IDD-OT) Program designed a fellowship for occupational therapists who aspire to be leaders in the field of pediatric occupational therapy. The IDD-OT Fellow will gain advanced clinical skills in interprofessional collaborative evaluation and treatment of children, adolescents and young adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities. The Fellowship program also encompasses education, leadership and research.

The IDD-OT program is now an AOTA-Accredited Fellowship Site!

Program details

The IDD-OT Fellowship program functions within the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental & Related Disabilities Program (LEND) at OHSU. LEND programs are funded throughout the country by a grant by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The LEND program at the CDRC is recognized as one of the premier training programs in the country for training medical professionals in clinical care, research, community outreach and advocacy for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Oregon Health & Science University hires the IDD-OT fellow within the School of Medicine. The IDD-OT fellow spends time in clinical care, research, program development and education. The IDD-OT fellow spends at least 40% of their time mentored by faculty in clinical care, teaching, scholarship and leadership promotion. There are four learning tracks:

  1. Neurodevelopmental feeding
  2. Neonatal and early childhood development
  3. Autism
  4. Transition through the lifespan

The IDD-OT Fellow will spend two-four months in each rotation, working on an interdisciplinary clinical team and providing intervention services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

The fellow will be employed by Oregon Health & Science University and will receive a benefits package throughout their fellowship.

Listen to our podcast about the fellowship

Program Goals

The IDD-OT Fellowship program focuses on four core areas of expertise: clinical competence, education, leadership, and research. While there is a heavy emphasis on clinical excellence, the fellow will incorporate education, leadership, and research into every day practice. Mentorship is provided in each area, facilitating the development of expertise in providing occupational therapy services to families who experience neurodevelopmental and related disabilities.

The following goals guide our program:

Program goal #1: Clinical competency: The IDD-OT Fellowship program will develop a highly skilled occupational therapist with expertise in client-centered and culturally competent treatment throughout the lifespan for youth and young adults with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities. The IDD-OT fellow will gain proficiency in domains and frameworks of occupational therapy practice and incorporate occupational therapy framework into interdisciplinary clinics and intervention programs.

Program goal #2: Education and teaching: The IDD-OT Fellowship program will provide mentorship and experience in becoming an educator in occupational therapy to students, other health professionals, and families/caregivers.

Program goal #3: Leadership: The IDD-OT Fellowship program will provide opportunities and guidance in the development of leadership skills as an occupational therapist working with children, youth, and young adults with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities.

Program goal #4: Research: The IDD-OT Fellowship program will provide the opportunity to engage in clinical research projects focused on improving participation of children with neurodevelopmental and other related disabilities.

Teaching and learning philosophy: The IDD-OT Fellowship will focus on clinic-based learning and didactic teaching through the LEND program. Clinic-based learning will occur through:

  1. Scheduled trainings: This involves specific trainings with mentors from all departments of CDRC and IDD. Some training will be mandatory but there will also be opportunities for the fellow to select areas of interest for additional training.
  2. Clinical experiences: The fellow will see a variety of patients in the interdisciplinary clinics (e.g. feeding, autism, neurodevelopment, Down syndrome) and will gain clinical and professional skills. This experience will involve observation, mentored practice, and feedback sessions.
  3. Self-learning: The fellow will be provided with access to books in the OT library and CDRC library. In addition, the fellow will be able to access journal articles through the OHSU library.
  4. Teaching/project completion: Each rotation, the fellow will have to “teach back” or present a project to either the clinical team, the OT department, or the LEND team, some more formal than others. These teaching sessions or projects could involve a case study, journal club, a novel intervention technique, a recent evidence-based practice article, or other relevant project that can help the clinical team or family seeking services.
  5. LEND curriculum: The Interdisciplinary Seminar serves as the foundation for the training process. It is organized around three major themes:  Leadership in Clinical and Professional Practice, Leadership in Community and Health Systems, and Leadership in Policy, Advocacy, and Research that directly address the identified needs of children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families, revolving around MCH Competencies. The three themes are interspersed across the academic year so that the topics can be addressed in the order that the trainees need or can digest the information.  The ID Seminars are presented weekly by various LEND and visiting faculty, family and community presenters, and the trainees themselves. The duration is two hours with attendance mandatory for all trainees.

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How to apply

  • Applicants for the fellowship program must complete an accredited program in occupational therapy before the start date. Applicants must be eligible for licensure in Oregon and have obtained licensure within one month of starting the program (by September 1st).
  • Extensive experience in pediatrics (including work experience, fieldwork experience or other experience outside of the OT profession).
  • Applicants whose work incorporates a global perspective, and a demonstrated commitment to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion or multicultural competency.

Applications must include:

  • Current CV or Resume (not to exceed two pages)
  • Formal letter of intent. Please include answers to the following questions:
    • How does this fellowship program fit with your career goals?
    • What leadership experience do you bring to the fellowship?
    • Please share any experience you have in working with individuals from backgrounds different from yours. How would this experience translate into working within a health care environment?
  • 3 letters of reference, at least 1 from a clinical supervisor or recommender who has observed clinical skills (not to exceed one page):
    • Please email letters directly to Erin Cochran, M.A., OTR/L at cochraer@ohsu.edu 
    • Letters should be from individuals who can comment on your candidacy for the fellowship 
    • Please provide contact information for each reference you provide

Selection Process

  • Applications are reviewed blindly (personal identifying information is redacted) by all members of the fellowship committee
  • Each member of the fellowship committee completes a scoring rubric to rank the applicants
  • 3-4 applicants, with the highest average scores, are invited for a virtual interview with the entire fellowship committee. Additionally a Q&A with the current fellow is scheduled for the same day of the interview.
  • Each fellowship committee member rates each of the interviewees and following all of the interviews, the committee meets to make a decision regarding which applicant to offer the fellowship position
  • All interviewees are updated with a decision within two weeks of the interview

Important dates

  • Applications are currently open as of January 3, 2024
  • Applications will be accepted until February 29, 2024
  • Interviews will be completed virtually on April 3, 2024
  • Start date will be late Summer 2024 and the fellowship will run through Summer 2025

Please contact Erin Cochran, M.A., O.T.R./L., Fellowship Director at 503-418-2039 or cochraer@ohsu.edu with any additional questions.

Q&A with our OT Fellow

A woman sitting on a swing hanging from a tall tree.
Teresa Cao, M.S.O.T., OTR/L

Q: Why did you decide to do a fellowship?

With its balance of clinical care, program development, and education, the IDD-OT fellowship program at OHSU encompassed exactly what I envision as my next step towards practicing as an advanced clinician in pediatric care. I have always had a love for children, but of course the pediatric realm has many specialties! After working for three years at an outpatient SI clinic, I knew I wanted more experience working with medically complex children in an interdisciplinary setting. At OHSU, I am grateful to be surrounded by a teaching culture full of driven, supportive, and insightful colleagues.

Aside from clinical experiences, the fellowship provides opportunities for education, research, service learning, and reflective practice through the LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities) portion of the fellowship. These kinds of leadership opportunities align well with my preference to wear “several hats” and have diverse responsibilities as an OT working with the disability community.

Q: Can you describe a typical week for you during the fellowship?

The weekly schedule will change depending on the rotation, however each day is dedicated to certain roles. I spend two days a week independently performing evaluation and treatments, with 8 clients from 8 AM to 5 PM. I typically have one administrative day per week where I can complete my documentation and participate in LEND projects and research. My last two days of the week encompass my current rotation (Feeding, NICU/EI, Autism, Neurodevelopment/Transition). I also attend a weekly LEND seminar on Thursday afternoons.

In the fellowship, I divide my time between direct client care, one-on-one mentorship, LEND and other educational experiences. The LEND program provides an opportunity to collaborate with fellows from other disciplines, follow a family through their child’s continuum of care, and participate in projects of interest while learning about those with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Q: What has surprised you most about this fellowship?

Even though I get a lot of mentorship, my supervisors don’t treat me like a student. They emphasize that I am already a practitioner and I am just learning an advanced area of practice! My supervisors really prioritize and value my learning experience, preferences, and feedback.

Secondly, I am appreciative of the very important topics we cover in LEND seminar, which challenge me to think about my current practice and how I can better serve the disability community with a more inclusive approach. Interdisciplinary training is the hallmark of LEND programs, and I have found the discussions with the other fellows and providers to be most valuable.

Q: How do you think this fellowship matches with your future career goals?

​​​​​​​This fellowship has rotations in my special interests of feeding and NICU settings, so I am hoping to eventually have specialty certifications in feeding / swallowing and neonatal therapy!

The fellowship provides many great opportunities to collaborate with providers from other disciplines such as speech language pathologists, physical therapists, dieticians, psychologists, doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, self-advocates, and more. Now I can’t fathom treating without a team-based and family-centered approach and will strive to work in settings that have these same values.

From this program, I have also learned to recognize how systemic, institutional, and cultural barriers affect access to healthcare. I believe healthcare practitioners are responsible to meet the diverse social, cultural, and linguistic needs of our clients. To do so, we must practice cultural sensitivity and humility and acknowledge that this requires a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and a growth mindset. This fellowship provided a space with very like-minded people and has encouraged me to work hard as an advocate for the disability community in my career!