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What legacy will you leave infants and families in your NICU?


Have you ever thought about the changes that your practice brings to the outcomes and lives of the infants and families with whom you work? As neonatal therapists we all work from the premise that the neuroprotective care that we provide will support and promote optimal outcomes for high-risk infants. However, the journey to acquire the knowledge, skills and experience that is required to practice both safely and effectively in this complex area of care is a long one. All of the combined learning that you bring to the bedside as you care for each infant and their family makes a difference to not just their NICU experience, but their long-term outcomes. 

The Neonatal Therapy National Certification Board introduced neonatal therapy certification in 2017 to recognize and advance inter-professional neonatal therapy practice through evidence-based certification standards including validation of clinical experience and knowledge essential for effective delivery of neonatal therapy. The NTNCB provides certification to neonatal therapists who have demonstrated the time, knowledge, and commitment to serve high-risk infants in the NICU. 

We know that many of the hundreds of neonatal therapists who have successfully certified do so to provide evidence to others, including their employers, of their expert practice in this arena. However, we also know that there are many expert neonatal therapists practicing who perhaps feel that due to the respect and perceived value of neonatal therapy in their NICU, pursuing neonatal therapy certification may not be a necessary priority at this point in their career. 

So my question to you is…what legacy will you leave infants and families at that point in the future when you leave your current employment (perhaps for new pastures or retirement)? Do your NICU colleagues recognize the wealth and depth that your knowledge and experience bring to the nuanced and individualized care that you provide to each infant and family? Have you ever thought about whether a neonatal therapist who may follow in your footsteps would have a commensurate level of expertise to continue the legacy of caregiving that you have provided? 

Neonatal therapy certification is one way that NICUs can benchmark the level of expertise in practitioners that they bring onto their NICU staff. Having your own expertise recognized by becoming a Certified Neonatal Therapist (CNT) definitively demonstrates to employers the attributes they should seek when employing new therapists in their NICUs. We are gradually starting to see a shift in employment opportunities for neonatal therapists, whereby preference for CNTs is being noted in job postings. 

So, if you’ve yet to explore what neonatal therapy certification offers, I encourage you to do so today. You will not only be acquiring an internationally recognized certification for your neonatal therapy excellence, but forever setting a benchmark for the required expertise to care for infants and families in your NICU setting. This is an important step for recognition of the skill-set that neonatal therapists bring to the NICU team.  The physician does a fellowship and sits for a board exam in neonatology, the nurse gets neonatal nurse certification, and the therapist gets the CNT status. This defines the unique knowledge needed to care for infants and families in the NICU setting across team members 

Further, CNT-Retired status is now available to those who have reached the end of their professional career.  This designation will stay with therapists throughout their lives, well after they stop practicing, and will be an important acknowledgement to the younger generation of the advanced knowledge needed to practice in the complex NICU setting.  

Applications for neonatal therapy certification are currently open, but the deadline is November 15th 2020To learn more, please visit