MedStar NRH Neuroscience OT Residency – First in the Nation – Earns High Marks for Accreditation | MedStar Health

MedStar NRH Neuroscience OT Residency – First in the Nation – Earns High Marks for Accreditation

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WASHINGTON, D.C., – MAY 19, 2017 - The new MedStar NRH Neuroscience Occupational Therapy Residency Program earned top marks during its first site visit by the American Occupational Therapy Association—the national accrediting organization. The residency program is the first one-of-its-kind in the nation, and was developed to provide practicing OTs with advanced training in the care of patients with neurological issues such as stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, ALS, MS and Parkinson’s disease.

The program’s unique curriculum is the result of the collaborative effort of a group of MedStar NRH occupational therapists led by Amanda Gahlot MS, OTR/L BCPR; Neepa Shah, MS, OT; and Elizabeth M. Newman, OTD, OT/L, with assistance from Mary Romanello, PhD, PT, dean of nursing and health professions at Trinity Washington University.

“We have an increasing number of graduating occupational therapists nationwide—and a real need for increased specialization,” says Gahlot. “Ours is the first OT neurologic residency program.”

Diverse Educational Experience

The program has been designed to provide residents with a wide-ranging experience during the course of one year. ”We established four components of study under the mentorship of experienced practitioners that include clinical care, teaching, advocacy and research,” explains Gahlot. 

“Residents will spend time at MedStar NRH, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in both inpatient and outpatient settings. They will have involvement in clinical research, and exposure to advocacy and leadership through community outreach activities, as well,” she says.

“In addition, through our long-held partnership with Trinity Washington University, residents will also experience teaching in the school’s occupational therapy assistant program and its OT master’s program,” adds Shah.  “We are providing residents a unique opportunity to experience teaching at a collegiate level, have a mentor in an academic setting, and share their hands-on clinical knowledge with students.”

“MedStar NRH has served as a clinical rotation site for our students for some time,” explains Romanello. “I have worked closely with Amanda for some time.  She is an adjunct professor here at Trinity. When she came to me with the idea, I was thrilled to help put together the teaching portion of the program. Our students benefit from learning about best practices from people who are taking care of patients—and the residents get a real taste of teaching. This is a changing field and we know you can’t just teach as you were taught.”

Learning Challenge

Last fall, Sophie Leeds, OT, was selected as the program’s first resident and completes her training later this year. Her selection was the result of a unique process that is now being replicated nationwide.  Six candidates are interviewed in a group setting, observe OTs as they work, visit Trinity, speak with MedStar NRH researchers, and ultimately meet with human resources. Individual interviews are also conducted. “It’s a well-rounded day and a great way to see how people interact with one another,” says Shah.

For Leeds, the residency provides an important new career challenge.  “I wanted to immerse myself in a new learning experience,” she says.  “The MedStar NRH neuro-residency really seemed like a perfect fit.”

Leeds has rotated through several environments, spent time assisting in an exciting stem cell stroke study, and taught both undergraduates and graduate students. “I always had an interest in teaching, but I never knew how challenging it would be,” she says.  “But it has been fun. I’ve been both a teacher and a learner.”

Leeds happily accepted an offer to join the MedStar NRH inpatient staff and begins her new job at the end of the year. “I’ll be working on the floor working with a range of patients with stroke, traumatic brain injury, as well as spinal cord injury, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Written by Emily Turk


About MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

The MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is a regional system of rehabilitation care that offers inpatient, day treatment and outpatient services in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Northern Virginia and Delaware.

The Network’s interdisciplinary team of rehabilitation experts provides comprehensive services to help people recover as fully as possible following illness and injury.  Rehabilitation medicine specialists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists work hand-in-hand with other rehab professionals to design treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Rehabilitation plans feature a team approach and include the use of state-of-the-art technology and advanced medical treatment based on the latest rehabilitation research.  

The Network provides comprehensive programs specifically designed to aid in the rehabilitation of adults and children recovering from neurologic and orthopaedic conditions such as amputation, arthritis, back and neck pain, brain injury, cancer, cardiac conditions, concussion, fibromyalgia, foot and ankle disorders, hand and upper extremity problems, MS, Parkinson’s, post-polio syndrome, stroke, spinal cord injury and disease, and sports and work-related injuries.

Inpatient and day treatment programs are provided at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital located in Northwest Washington, D.C., and at more than 50 outpatient sites conveniently located throughout D.C., Baltimore, and all of Maryland, Northern Virginia, & Delaware.  MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is fully accredited by The Joint Commission,  the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), with CARF accredited specialty programs for Amputations, Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke.

For more on MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and to find a location near you, log on to 


For Immediate Release:
Media Contact

Derek Berry

Director of Communications


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