International Neonatal Therapy Week (INTW) is a special time each year during which we celebrate the contributions of neonatal occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech language pathologists across the globe.
Neonatal therapists have been working in the NICU for decades, often with very little support. Some of our international Members are the sole neonatal therapist in their country (thus far). This week, NANT recognizes every single one them, and celebrates their individual and collective contributions to improving neurodevelopmental outcomes for babies in the NICU.
The infographic above visually depicts our tight-knit global Member community. While we are geographically separated, we are united by our mission.
In honor of this week, we asked a few of our Members across the globe the following question:
“What have you found most beneficial about being part of this international community of neonatal therapists?”
Member: Sujata Noronha PT, C/NDT(USA), SI(USC), C/Brazelton NBO Credentials, Neonatal and Pediatric Physical Therapist
Place of Employment: Howard Newborn Centre (Level3 NICU)
Answer: My association with NANT started in 2018 after learning about Sue Ludwig and the neonatal therapy association while researching for mentorship programs in neonatal therapy. The knowledge that I have gained from this group has broadened my horizon to possibilities beyond what we are exposed to in our country.
The readiness with which the queries are answered and the different views that we garner in our interactions from the best of therapists in the neonatal field has led to an increase in substantial qualitative learning. The association helps us remain up to date on the latest evidence-based protocols in the field of neonatal therapy which we can strive to implement in our NICU especially in the developing countries where survival is still the only priority.
It has been an empowering, enlightening journey with vast knowledge filled resources and excellent mentoring in its true sense.
Member: Andrea Fourie, BSc SLP (UCT), MA SLP (WITS), CNT
Country: South Africa
Place of Employment: Self-Employed. My practice is called Thrive Therapy Services. I work at a Level IV NICU in Johannesburg in a Private hospital. In South Africa we cannot be employed by private hospitals therefore we work for ourselves and consult into the hospitals.
Answer: Here in SA we do not have many neonatal therapists and the resources/education opportunities are limited. I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship to attend the NANT Conference in 2015 and that opened my eyes to the community around the world and put me in touch with people who are at the forefront of evidence-based practice and research.
It was inspiring to see how similar we are and yet so different. Having the international community has allowed me to access learning and information I would not have had available to me in SA and ultimately led me to become the first speech therapist qualified as a neonatal therapist here in South Africa.
Member: Elaine Mc Mahon, Bsc (Hons) OT, PgCert SI, PgDIP SI
Country: United Kingdom
Place of Employment: Starlight Neonatal Unit, Barnet Hospital, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Answer: Being a member of an international community of neonatal therapists has provided inspiration at every turn. From the regular email updates, to the excellent online resources and the amazing virtual NANT10 this year. I have a constant list of webinars and articles to research. I am frequently in awe of what others have been able to achieve and as they share their knowledge and skills, it helps to continue to improve and evolve my practice.
This was my first year attending the conference, although virtually, the sense of community, passion and togetherness was incredible. This year, especially with the challenging situations we have all been in, as a neonatal occupational therapist I have felt I have needed to be even more creative and cover a wider breath of skills. I have felt part of a knowledgeable team, working across the world, sharing the passion to support each and every individual infant, parent, family, and member of staff on the neonatal unit.
Member: Ginger Hejtmancik, MS, CCC- SLP, CNT
Place of Employment: Baptist Healthcare System
Answer: For me, the most beneficial part of being a member of an international NANT community has been the research and combined passion. Along with research from other colleagues, come some fabulous ideas. I love the presentations we’ve had at NANT by neonatal therapists from the UK. The collaboration and dedication to all of ‘our’ babies worldwide is inspiring. The ongoing commitment and innovation to support infants and families is truly amazing. Also, I thoroughly enjoy getting to hear other lovely accents!
Neonatal therapists everywhere – we celebrate you and your significant contributions to neonatal care!