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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

UC Health Cincinnati Unveils Nation’s First LGBTQIA2S+ Occupational Therapy Fellowship


UC Health has developed the first Occupational Therapy (OT) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two Spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) Health Fellowship in the United States to better serve the diverse and often underserved LGBTQIA2S+ community.

 

“This fellowship is a groundbreaking step in redefining the role of occupational therapy in supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ community. We're committed to promoting inclusive care and addressing the occupational injustices marginalized groups face. The excitement and opportunities this program brings are immense, offering fellows the chance to lead innovative change and make a lasting impact in health care,” said Fellowship Director Colton Sayers (he/him). Sayers is an outpatient occupational therapist (OTR/L) at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, a Certified Neurological Specialist (CNS) and holds a doctorate in occupational therapy (OTD).

 

This innovative fellowship program is designed to create culturally sensitive practitioners who are well-equipped to address the unique occupational needs of the LGBTQIA2S+ population. Through occupational therapy, patients are supported as they seek to navigate successfully and often relearn fundamental activities, such as driving, working, bathing, cooking, and other day-to-day tasks. Therapists use a strengths-based approach to optimize function within a physical, mental, cognitive, and social context and promote the patient’s overall resilience. The program promises a dynamic blend of rigorous academic and clinical training, ensuring that fellow further evolves as not just a skilled caregiver, but also a leader and advocate in the field.

 

“The LGBTQIA2S+ community has long faced significant barriers to accessing inclusive and effective healthcare,” Sayers said. “This fellowship addresses these challenges head-on by training practitioners to think creatively and act as strong advocates for their patients. The program's focus on cultural humility and interprofessional collaboration ensures that fellows can provide high-quality, empathetic care tailored to the unique needs of LGBTQIA2S+ individuals.”

 

Spanning a full year, this fellowship, slated to begin July 2025, is an immersive post-academic program dedicated to fostering a deep understanding of providing strengths-based, inclusive care to patients who identify as LGBTQIA2S+. The fellow will work closely with LGBTQIA+ medical experts across UC Health in various specialties, ensuring a holistic and collaborative approach to healthcare. Specifically, the fellow will work alongside The Sawyer Pardo Fellowship for LGBTQ+ Health at The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

 

This position will consist of a 40-hour work week, during which the fellow will divide their time between 60% clinical and 40% academic activities. They will gain hands-on experience in UC Health’s outpatient facilities and community organizations, tackling a range of conditions, from neurodivergence and traumatic injuries to mental health issues.

 

The academic side of the fellowship features modules on critical topics such as Social Determinants of Health, Historical LGBTQIA2S+ Moments and Legislative Policy and Transgender Health Considerations. They will also complete a comprehensive capstone project, encompassing a literature review, needs assessment, program implementation and dissemination, aimed at revolutionizing health delivery for LGBTQIA2S+ individuals. The fellowship is designed to provide a variety of experiences, including outpatient clinics, community-based practice, program development, interprofessional collaboration, specialty clinics, university engagement and scholarship.

 

Meet the Visionaries Behind the Fellowship

Sayers has been a driving force behind this innovative fellowship. Focusing on occupational justice, mental health and inclusive care, he has laid the foundation for what promises to be a transformative educational and professional experience.

 

Joining him is Michelle LeRoy, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, fellowship co-director (they/she). Board Certified in Pediatrics and an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, LeRoy has dedicated their career to advancing occupational therapy’s role in transgender care. Their current research focuses on empowering LGBTQIA+ youth and adolescents through strengths-based workshops to improve mental health.

 

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