The University of Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Science and Technology Department has received a five-year grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research to support clinicians with post-doctoral fellowships to advance their careers in assistive technology practice, research, and policy.
The program, entitled Career Advancement in Assistive Technology Practice, Research & Policy (CAT-PReP), aims to improve the capacity of clinicians with research skills to advance evidence-based practice and to inform equitable policies for access to assistive technology devices and services to further support people with disabilities for community living and participation.
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“Other than pursuing a PhD, most clinicians get very little training on how to do research, especially studies that are meaningful to inform practice and policy,” says Mark Schmeler, occupational therapist and co-director of CAT-PReP. “This fellowship is geared toward immersing clinicians in a service where research is integrated alongside practice.”
“Traditional post-doc fellowships tend to support those who recently completed a PhD to further advance their research skills and prepare for academic careers,” says Dan Ding, a research engineer and co-director of CAT-PReP. “The merging of practice with research for people with clinical doctorates is a novel strategy in our field and will improve future research capacity within the clinic.”
Up to five 24-month assistive technology training fellowships will be awarded under CAT-PReP. Ideal candidates will have a terminal doctorate in a clinical field such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, audiology, medicine or rehabilitation engineering and a vested interest in advancing their clinical and research skills in an area of assistive technology. Fellows will undergo a comprehensive clinical rotation across various domains of assistive technology at the Center for Assistive Technology (CAT) within the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). They will have an advisory committee consisting of a primary research mentor, a clinical mentor, and a community provider mentor in the specific area that aligns with their interests. The fellowship offers a $55,000 annual salary with benefits.