Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy program receives scholarship gift from NMEDA

Representatives from UF occupational therapy, the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) and NMEDA gathered during the American Occupational Therapy Association Inspire annual conference. From left: Elizabeth Soles, CEO of ADED; Kate Lopez, president of ADED; Trevor Jennings, director of partner relations at NMEDA; Dr. Sherrilene Classen, professor and chair of the UF department of occupational therapy; Amy Lane, director of education and training at NMEDA; and Beth Gibson, an instructional assistant professor at the UF department of occupational therapy.

The University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions department of occupational therapy has received a gift from the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, or NMEDA, that supports tuition for a student enrolled in the Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy program.

The only program of its kind in the United States, the UF Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy is designed to help students develop specialized skills, advanced practice behaviors, leadership and critical appraisal of research in the area of driver rehabilitation. Graduates are qualified to be entry-level driver rehabilitation therapists working with drivers throughout the lifespan.

“NMEDA is thrilled to provide this scholarship for the Driver Rehabilitation Therapy program at the University of Florida,” said Trevor Jennings, NMEDA’s director of partner relations. “Driver rehabilitation is a critical piece of the puzzle for individuals with disabilities looking to attain or retain their independence in day-to-day living. Our hope is that with more individuals trained in driver rehabilitation, our members can help provide more resources to those in need.”

NMEDA’s gift funds the tuition of one student enrolled in the one-year program that offers online and on-site training in screening, assessment, evaluation and interventions for drivers who have medical conditions that may affect driving.

“We are very appreciative of this scholarship as our ultimate goal is to build capacity in the field of driver rehabilitation so no medically-at-risk driver will experience the current shortage of access to driver rehabilitation therapists,” said Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., M.P.H., OTR/L, professor and chair of the UF PHHP department of occupational therapy and director of the UF Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy.

Joanna Shatlan

Joanna Shatlan, MOT, OTR/L, is the scholarship’s first recipient.

“I am honored and grateful to be a recipient of the first [NMEDA] Scholarship,” she said. “Thanks to this scholarship, I will be able to fulfill my long-awaited professional goal and dream of becoming a driver rehabilitation specialist, a goal that I have had since working overseas with active-duty U.S. Army soldiers. There, I was tasked with assessing the fitness to drive of soldiers returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan using a driving simulator. Even though I lacked proper training at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed developing the protocols of driving rehabilitation. I sincerely look forward to learning the many intricacies of the Driver Rehabilitation Therapy Program.”