The National Association of Neonatal Therapists® (NANT) is an organization that serves neonatal occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists. NANT provides multiple ways for neonatal therapists to connect, learn, mentor and inspire while advancing this focused field of therapy on a national level.
What we stand for
We strive to define, support and lead the field of neonatal therapy by providing neonatal therapists with a platform for connecting, unifying and strengthening their shared vision of improving neonatal development.
What we believe
We are dedicated to supporting the professional development and personal growth of neonatal occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists. We provide education, networking, resources, and products unique to the neonatal population to empower neonatal therapists in the advancement of population-specific knowledge, skills and practice. We are committed to creativity, innovation and excellence as clinicians, researchers, leaders and mentors.
Sue Ludwig, OTR/L, CNT, is passionate about improving quality of life for infants who begin their journey in the NICU and the therapists who serve them. As NANT President and Founder she uses her unique blend of clinical expertise, innovation, and leadership skills to support the advancement of this specialized field on a global level.
She received the Laura Edmunds Lectureship Award from UMass Memorial Medical Center and was awarded the Individual Contribution to Maternal & Child Health by the National Perinatal Association.
She is a member of and media expert in neonatal therapy for the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Sue is a sought after speaker, consultant, writer and educator. She is driven to improve the culture of healthcare, armed with decades of experience speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Sue lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two children.
We constantly recommit to the highest intention for the greatest good. All roads lead to serving babies and families in the NICU.
We value progress over perfection. We believe in grit and gratitude. We fall. We stand back up.
We consciously build collaboration between professions in support of a shared vision.
We elevate and serve neonatal therapists in support of global neurodevelopmental impact for infants and families in the NICU.
We are who we say we are. Our actions and decisions are congruent with our core values.
We listen. We stay curious. We create meaningful roads out of mere wilderness. We bring unique value to the neonatal community.
We show up fully present to our work and each other.
Definition of Neonatal Therapy: Neonatal Therapy is the art and science of integrating typical development of the infant and family into the environment of the NICU. It incorporates theories and scopes of practice from the respective disciplines of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology. It requires advanced knowledge of the diagnoses and medical interventions inherent to the NICU setting in order to provide safe and effective assessment, planning and treatment. At this early point in the lifespan, Neonatal Therapy promotes optimal long-term developmental outcomes and nurtures infant-parent relationships by addressing the following synergistic neurodevelopmental systems: neurobehavioral, neuromotor, neuroendocrine, musculoskeletal, sensory, and psychosocial. These systems provide the foundation for the development of functional skills.
*This definition was created by the NANT Professional Collaborative (NPC).
Definition of a Neonatal Therapist: Neonatal Therapists are an essential part of the NICU team. A Neonatal Therapist is an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech language pathologist who delivers holistic direct patient care and consultative services to premature and medically complex infants in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Using an integrated, neuroprotective, family-centered model, Neonatal Therapists provide highly specialized and individualized therapeutic interventions in the NICU. These interventions support optimal long-term development, prevent adverse sequelae, and nurture the infant-family dyad. Neonatal Therapists provide education to the family and NICU team.
**This definition was created by the NANT Professional Collaborative (NPC).
The NANT Professional Collaborative (NPC) is a multidisciplinary group (OT, PT, SLP) of neonatal therapists that advises and assists in defining, creating and reviewing emerging standards, practices and guidelines for the National Association of Neonatal Therapists (NANT).
The above definitions were created by the original members of the NANT Professional Collaborative (NPC) including:
Anjanette Lee, MS, CCC/SLP, NTMTC (co-leader)
Cathie Smith, PT, PhD, DPT, PCS
Chrysty Sturdivant, OTR
Jason Powell, PT (co-leader)
Jenene Craig, PhD, MBA, OTR/L
Jenny Reynolds, SLP
Sandra Carroll, OTR
Sandy Conner, PT
Sue Ludwig, OTR/L
NANT’s focus is supporting neonatal therapists (OT, PT, SLP). However, membership may also serve the interests and needs of many other neonatal care providers. Membership is therefore extended to those who are drawn to our mission, regardless of discipline.
The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has been identified by all professional therapy organizations (AOTA, APTA, ASHA, NANT) to be an area of advanced practice. Infants requiring neonatal intensive care are a particularly vulnerable population secondary to prematurity and /or significant medical conditions. These specialized therapists must have knowledge of medical interventions occurring in tandem with therapeutic interventions and must be skilled in appropriate timing and intensity of interventions within a tenuous environment. The provision of therapy services in the NICU requires specialized orientation, training, continuing education, and mentoring.
Your path to becoming a neonatal therapist:
- Minimum of 3 years of experience as a practicing OT, PT or SLP is highly recommended
- *Mentored practice hours in the NICU (before practicing independently)
- Specialized mentoring in neonatal therapy (in-person and/or online)
- Education specific to neonatal therapy is necessary for safe and effective practice
Options for mentoring and training: (may be in combination)
- In-person training by an experienced neonatal therapist
- Comprehensive foundational online program titled Ignite: Core Training and Mentoring for Neonatal Therapists. This program is peer reviewed, current, and in alignment with NANT’s Core Scope of Practice. Enrollment is annual. Click here for more information. (Designed for OTs, PTs, SLPs). Provides both mentoring and education.
- For PTs only: Physical Therapy Fellowship in Neonatology: Click here for more information.
Specialized Education: Participation in ongoing continuing education (CEU and non-CEU may be acceptable) focused on NICU population and neonatal therapy. Keep track of all courses or offerings attended/completed.
*At the point of entry into the NICU, it is preferred that mentoring occur with a neonatal therapist; however, mentorship may be provided by other experienced NICU professionals including physicians, neonatal nurse practitioners, neonatal clinical nurse educators, developmental care team leaders, or neonatal clinical nurse specialists. It is imperative that the mentor provides consistent oversight of the therapist who is new to the NICU
Neonatal therapy certification, via the Neonatal Therapy National Certification Board or NTNCB, identifies individuals who have demonstrated the time, knowledge and commitment to serve high risk infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.
At this stage of development, the therapist who possesses the knowledge and experience in order to function independently as a neonatal therapist may consider certification as a neonatal therapist.
Certification requirements include:
- PT, OT, or SLP credentialing for a period of 3 years
- 3500 hours of direct practice in the NICU
- 40 hours of education related to NICU practice within the past 3 years
- 40 hours of mentored experiences
- Passing score on the Neonatal Therapy National Certification Exam
Visit www.ntncb.com for more details about neonatal therapy certification.
Yes! NANT hosts an annual internationally attended educational conference.
This is the only national conference created specifically for neonatal occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech language pathologists. NANT Conference attendees have also included: neonatologists, neonatal nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, educators, dieticians, child life specialists, and early intervention therapists. (There’s nothing else like it in the world!)
Click here for details about this year’s NANT Conference!
NANT has members in multiple countries around the world! We are eager to learn from you as well as provide you with access to education and support. Most of our educational and mentoring resources are located online within the NANT website and therefore can be accessed by members regardless of time zone. NANT also offers one international tuition scholarship each year for our annual conference.