500 University Avenue West, Minot, ND



Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities
North Dakota Faculty Site Coordinator- Hilory Liccini

Welcome to the URLEND Program

The Utah Regional LEND, or URLEND, is a LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities) training program that covers five states: Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. Our program uses state-of-the-art technology to connect groups of trainees across our partner states. Professionals are trained to move beyond discipline boundaries to provide optimal services to child and adolescents with special health care needs. Because families are essential to well-being, this program emphasizes the role of family-centered care in all we do.

URLEND Learning Approach

Each year a diverse set of trainees from numerous disciplines are brought together with faculty and families of children with special health care needs, to form an interdisciplinary learning cohort. The URLEND approach is based on goals and objectives derived from Maternal & Child Health (MCH) leadership competencies. Each long-term trainee participates in three forms of learning: didactic (classroom), leadership, and clinical. Read more about the URLEND Learning Approach, and URLEND Expectations and Definitions, URLEND AE Expectations and Definitions and URLEND Infant Pediatric Audiology (IPA) Expectations and Definitions.

Image of a family of 7 with 3 children with down syndrome

Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

In the spring of 2001, the University of Utah School of Medicine-Department of Pediatrics and Utah State University-the Center for Persons with Disabilities (a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disability) become a LEND Program. The URLEND (Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) training program was initially developed as a partnership between the hospital training of the University of Utah and the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Utah State University. Our initial collaboration grew to include another university within Utah (Brigham Young University) and the neighboring states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Through our use of technology, the URLEND program reaches all corners of these rural and frontier western states.

LEND training programs were historically co-located within medical campuses and because Idaho, Montana and Wyoming do not have medical colleges, the training that this program provides would not have been available with out this collaboration.


There are currently 52 LEND Programs in 44 states and these programs work together in a national network to share information and resources and maximize their impact. The LEND training programs address national issues of importance to children with special health care needs and their families, exchange best practices and develop shared products. They also come together regionally to address specific issues and concerns.


While each LEND program is unique, with its own focus and expertise, they all provide interdisciplinary training, have faculty and trainees in a wide range of disciplines, and include parents or family members as paid program participants.


They also share the following objectives:

  1. advancing the knowledge and skills of all child health professionals to improve health care delivery systems for children with developmental disabilities;
  2. providing high-quality interdisciplinary education that emphasizes the integration of services from state and local agencies and organizations, private providers, and communities;
  3. providing health professionals with skills that foster community-based partnerships; and
  4. promoting innovative practices to enhance cultural competency, family-centered care, and interdisciplinary partnerships.
  5. The LENDs grew from the 1950s efforts of the Children’s Bureau (now the Maternal and Child Health Bureau) to identify children with disabilities as a Title V program priority. They are funded under the 2006 Combating Autism Act and are administered by the Health Resources and Service’s Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=473


Professional trainees come from the following disciplines:

  • Audiology
  • Genetic counseling
  • Health administration
  • Medicine (relevant medical specialties or subspecialties)
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychology
  • Public health
  • Social work
  • Special education/education
  • Speech-language pathology.


Other disciplines may be considered in special circumstances.

  • Long term trainees also included:
  • Individuals with Disabilities
  • Family members of individuals with disabilities
  • Community members in positions to support individuals with disabilities


URLEND Trainees are the future leaders in the maternal and child health field.


URLEND Classroom Curriculum

Because the URLEND services a large geographical area (Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and Idaho) trainees and faculty are brought together for 2 full days of training early in the academic year. The rest of the didactic meetings rely on video conferencing to bring participants together.


URLEND Leadership Curriculum

Because the goal of this grant is to train the leaders for tomorrow, leadership skills are a key outcome for the program. Over the course of the year, each trainee completes a leadership project either individually or as part of a team. Previous leadership projects may be found on the right hand side of this page.


URLEND Clinical Curriculum

One way to appreciate the complexity of care that some children require is to fully experience clinical settings that are out of one’s own area of specialization. URLEND trainees visit a number of specialized clinics and medical home providers.


Disciplines Represented

  • Audiology
  • Dentistry/Pediatric Dentistry
  • Education
  • General Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Health Administration
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Social Work
  • Speech-Language Pathology


Trainees participate in a 2 semester course. Trainees can choose from the following levels of training depending on their time commitments:

  1. Short-term level – (under 40 clock hours over one academic year)
  2. Intermediate level – (40 – 159 clock hours over one academic year)
  3. Intermediate level + – (160 – 259 clock hours over one academic year)
    – Intermediate/Skill Development trainees will enhance existing knowledge and skills relative to disabilities with an interdisciplinary focus and limited leadership activities and may choose their area of focus, and will receive URLEND-related didactic and experiential experiences.
  4. Long-term level – (300+ clock hours over one academic year)
    –  Long-term trainees may also apply for an additional 150 hours of advanced intensive concentration in the URLEND-AE (Autism Enhancement) track, for a commitment of 450 hours of training.