Neonatal Therapist Competencies – The Wait is Finally Over, So Let’s Dive In!

Neonatal Competencies

Authored by Anjanette Lee CCC/SLP, CNT

Neonatal Therapists (NTs) have long struggled to find or create competencies that reflect the specialty knowledge and skills needed to provide independent and safe practice with the fragile NICU population.  This past spring, the National Association of Neonatal Therapists (NANT) released “Practice Competencies for the Neonatal Therapist”.  

This interprofessional set of competencies, developed by the NANT Professional Collaborative, sets the bar for therapists working in the advanced practice setting of the NICU.  

Why have interprofessional competencies?

Skilled neonatal therapy competencies are necessary for NTs to provide independent and safe  interventions from birth to enhance physiologic function and neurostructural development of preterm and medically fragile neonates.  

The disciplines of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology all share a need for competency in applying certain common knowledge, skills and interventions within the NICU.  This common ground has been outlined in NANT’s “Core Scope of Practice” document, which is currently under revision. 

What experience levels are the NANT Practice Competencies designed for?

The NANT Practice Competencies were developed for all experience levels of NTs. 

These dynamic set of competencies may be used by NTs providing services in any level of NICU (II -IV) and are designed to guide NTs at all stages of competency development – those beginning to build competency, those working to master basic competency for independent practice, and those working towards advanced competency. Advanced level competency in all areas may be the ultimate goal for some, but this may vary by profession, longevity, and practice environment.

How are the NANT Practice Competencies organized?
Will they adapt to my organization’s competency format?

The NANT Practice Competencies are divided into 3 sections – Fundamental Knowledge, Core Competencies, & Interventions.  Each section is prefaced with recommendations and directions for intended use.

Fundamental Knowledge includes sections addressing the theoretical foundations for practice, medical history, equipment, professional ethics, assessment tools, environment, and body systems. 

address the environment, family, sensory system, neurobehavior, neuromotor & musculoskeletal, and oral feeding & swallowing. 

Finally, Interventions include environmental management, swaddled bathing, diapering, swaddling, dressing, positioning, skin-to-skin holding, non-pharmacologic pain & stress management, facilitating movement patterns, facilitating sensory exposures, lactation support, oral care/oral immune therapy (OIT), non-nutritive sucking, therapeutic tastes, preparation for breast & bottle feeding, breastfeeding, and bottle feeding. 

In addition to these sections, there is a five-page Competency Summary Report that consolidates the 3 sections and allows for more concise departmental documentation of competency.   This report can be used as is, or its components can easily be adapted to meet an organization’s needs for documentation. 

Where do I begin?

The first step is to get a copy of the NANT Practice Competencies!  Next, dive in and see where you stand.  Are there areas of Fundamental Knowledge that need addressing?  Are there knowledge gaps in certain sections of the Core Competencies, or components in which you may be practicing at differing competency levels?  Are there interventions utilized at your facility in which you have not yet demonstrated full competency?

Each NT is unique and thus the competency journey will be also.  A mentored journey is highly recommended.  If you don’t have an immediate option for a mentor, the NANT Ignite program is an excellent way to receive mentoring and education. NANT Ignite is a 10-month mentored program that is self-paced and on demand.  It includes live monthly guidance calls with program mentors so that questions can be thoroughly addressed and ideas can be shared.  It also includes a private Facebook group to allow connection and networking.

For those that would like education regarding the areas covered by the Practice Competencies, a new ERI course series will begin in 2023.  Intro to Neonatal Therapy – Establishing Competency for Independent Practice will focus on building competency by laying a foundation of fundamental knowledge, closing gaps within core competencies and assuring both fundamental knowledge and core competency knowledge are applied during NICU interventions.  This new series will be available via live webinar and on demand.

This series will be perfect for both NTs working to establish competency and those studying for the Neonatal Therapy Certification exam. 

Stay tuned for more information about this new series!

Anjanette Lee has over 25 years’ experience in the NICU, receiving NIDCAP certification in 1999 and then helping her NICU’s quality improvement team incorporate family centered, neuroprotective, and neuropromotive care practices as standards of care. As an imbedded NICU therapist, she is passionate about sharing knowledge with and utilizing all members of the neonate’s care team to support best neurodevelopmental outcomes. As a result, Anjanette provides ongoing education and mentorship for other Neonatal Therapists and NICU staff both within her hospital system and across the nation. Anjanette is certified in Neonatal Touch & Massage and was one of the first Certified Neonatal Therapists in the nation. She has co-authored chapters in Kenner & McGrath’s 1st edition of Developmental Care of Newborns & Infants, and Case-Smith & O’Brien’s 7th edition of Occupational Therapy for Children.

She serves as co-leader of the National Association of Neonatal Therapists Professional Collaborative and has co-authored NANT’s Neonatal Therapy Core Scope of Practice and Practice Competencies for the Neonatal Therapist. Anjanette also serves on the NANT national conference planning committee and is part of the teaching faculty for the NANT Ignite program.

NEW! Learn to Evaluate Feeding Performance and More with Live Webinar “Feeding Tiny Humans”

Shanna M. Semmler, OTD, OTR/L, CNT, NTMTC is an Occupational Therapist who has spent her entire career helping premature infants and full-term infants with medical complexities and/or birth trauma achieve their maximal potential. 

Her newest course, Feeding Tiny Humans: Strategies for “Typical” to Troubled Premature and Medically Complex Babies, is now available as a live webinar and is scheduled for October 1 and 2, 2022. Participants will earn 12 contact hours (1.2 CEUs) for completing both days and the cost is $369/person. 

For the last 13 years, Semmler has worked in an academic medical center Level IV NICU helping infants born as early as 22 weeks. Her extensive knowledge of the subject is outlined in this course, which includes lecture, small group discussion, and clinical scenarios with video to enhance observation skills of attendees. Therapists will learn to evaluate infant feeding performance and provide evidence-supported interventions to maximize infants’ outcomes. 

Register for Shanna Semmler’s Feeding Tiny Humans today! For questions or to register a group, please contact ERI at or 800-487-6530.

NEW Regulations for Licensure Renewals for Massachusetts PTs and OTs

On April 29, 2022, the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Health Professions (BOAH) promulgated regulations requiring continuing competency activities as a prerequisite to licensure renewal.
The Board will begin enforcing these requirements beginning with renewals due in September

ERI is here to help!

Here are some of the details as laid out by the BOAH

  • Licensees are required, as a condition of license renewal, to complete a minimum of 24 continuing competence points (one point per contact hour or equivalent as awarded by the provider) of Board recognized activities for maintaining continuing competence during the preceding biennial renewal period.
  • Board-approved continuing competence activities must relate to the science or contemporary
    clinical practice of physical therapy or occupational therapy and to the licensee’s current or
    anticipated professional roles and responsibilities of the following type and variety.
    (a) Publication. Published books, chapters of published books and/or articles in peer
    reviewed journals authored by the physical therapy or occupational therapy professional may
    be submitted for Board approval.
    (b) Presentation and Instruction. Presenters and instructors of academic courses,
    workshops, or seminars.
    (c) Academic Coursework. Fully completed academic coursework, by the licensee, from
    an accredited, degree-granting institution of higher education may be submitted.
    (d) Continuing Competence Programs. Fully completed continuing competence programs
    may be submitted. 
    (e) Other continuing competence activities approved by the American Occupational
    Therapy Association, Inc. or the American Physical Therapy Association may be submitted
  • Licensees must complete 24 continuing competence points per renewal period beginning in August 2024.
  • Between September 2022 and July 2024, the number of points required is prorated depending on the renewal month according to the chart outlined by this BOAH link (i.e. if the renewal month is October 2022 you will only need 2 points. If it is September 2023 you will need 13 points).
  • Deadline for to fulfill requirements is on your birthday every two years

How can we help?

ERI courses for Physical Therapists are approved by other states agency and therefore qualify for approval in Massachusetts

ERI courses for Occupational Therapists are approved by AOTA and therefore qualify for approval in Massachusetts

SEARCH HERE for all upcoming CEU courses from ERI.

We offer Live In-Person Courses, Virtual Webinars and On Demand Online courses

In a wide range of specialty fields: Pediatrics, NICU, PIU, School-Based Practice, Home Health, Neurology, Geriatrics, Vestibular, Critical Care, SNF &LTC and more…….

Email us at Or call 800 487 6530 if you need help and guidance choosing your next continuing competence course

Please do refer to these links for complete details:


FAQ from APTA of Massachusetts

What to Look for When Choosing a CEU Provider

what to look for when choosing a ceu provider

Choosing a continuing education (CEU) course provider is an important decision. Continuing your education as a therapist will help you further develop your skills, keep up with new research and implement updated techniques.

Choosing a CEU course provider with the proper accreditations and course offerings will ensure you meet your state or field’s requirements, and choosing the right provider can inspire you in your line of work. If you are wondering how to choose a course provider, we compiled some tips for finding the best continuing education course provider.

Importance of Continuing Education Courses

Continuing education courses allow you to provide the best care and therapy for your clients. They help you keep up with current research and updated techniques so you can maintain clinical excellence in your field. They also help you develop personally and professionally.

Learning is a lifelong process because there are always new ways to grow, and developing new skills can boost your confidence in yourself and in your work. Continuing your education can also boost promotion opportunities and lead to salary increases. Certain states and therapy fields have different CEU rules and regulations, so continuing your education allows you to meet requirements while developing personally.

What to Consider When Choosing a CEU Provider

If you are wondering how to choose a CEU course provider, there are some important factors to keep in mind. Knowing what to look for when choosing a CEU provider can help you make the best decision for your needs. Before choosing a provider, consider the following criteria:

criteria to consider when choosing a CEU provider

1. Accreditation

Do some research to make sure your chosen provider holds the appropriate accreditations. CEU providers must adhere to specific rules and regulations. Taking classes with accredited providers ensures you receive the correct training and quality education your field will recognize and accept. 

There are a few ways to check accreditation. You can check a provider’s website to learn which accreditations they have by looking for certain logos and any accreditation statements. You can also check state and national regulating bodies to find lists of accredited providers, or you can check if your company’s board website includes a list of acceptable providers.

2. Licensed Instructors

Another way to evaluate a course provider’s quality is to check the instructors’ experience. You should only sign up for courses taught by experienced educators or licensed professionals. Instructors with specialized training in your field will be able to provide the highest quality instruction that you need to grow in your profession. 

3. Technological and Presentation Quality

Providers must present their course content effectively with high production quality. Clear audio and visuals will help you focus on the course material, and effective visual representations will help you retain information. It’s also important to choose courses that are easily accessible. 

Your learning process will be quicker and easier if you can access your course materials with a few simple clicks. 

4. A Wide Variety of Course Offerings

Choose a CEU provider that offers various courses and continuously expands its options. When a provider offers a wide variety of engaging courses, you will have more opportunities to grow in several different areas. It’s also important for a provider to continuously update course material and add new courses because this will help you keep up with changes in your specific field. 

5. Ability to Understand and Meet Your Needs

A quality provider will understand the requirements in your field and be able to meet your specific needs. You must follow certain regulations and rules within your profession, so it’s important to choose a provider that understands these regulations and will help you understand and follow them as well. Conversation with a provider can help you determine how well they understand your profession and needs. 

6. Proper Documentation

Before choosing a CEU provider, make sure you will receive the proper documentation to verify your work. You will want to obtain a form of proof that you completed the course after you dedicate your time and effort to it, so make sure you understand your profession or state’s reporting requirements. 

Some states or professions may require proof for each course you take, while others only require proof for specific courses. Choose a provider that will offer you the necessary documentation to prove your completion of the required courses. You can also ask if the provider will automatically store your documentation for you.

Reporting speed will be important when you have deadlines to meet, so it’s important to know how fast you can expect proof of completion. Certificates should include the following information:

  • The course name
  • The date you took or completed the course
  • Earned hours or credits
  • Course provider accreditations

7. Cost

CEU providers should offer reasonable prices, but exercise caution if a provider advertises surprisingly low course prices. Suspiciously low prices may indicate that a provider cuts corners and sacrifices quality. Reasonable prices should be based on course content and production quality, and some providers may be able to accommodate your team’s budget by bundling courses together or allowing you the flexibility to purchase only the courses you need. 

choose ERI for your continuing education courses

Choose ERI for Your Continuing Education Courses

Understanding how to choose a CEU provider will help you develop your skills, implement new techniques and meet state requirements. Education Resources, Inc. offers both live and online courses to inform, inspire and meet your needs. Whether you prefer to take a convenient online course on your schedule, participate in a live webinar or learn inside a classroom, ERI will provide quality course content to help you grow professionally and personally. We also offer an annual conference for therapists in various fields. 

In evolving fields with ongoing research, it’s important to practice the newest techniques and keep up with the latest findings. With ERI, you can learn real-world skills and remain current with best practices. Our inspiring course content will help you improve patient outcomes, boost your standard of care and advance your career. When you continue your education with ERI, you will receive in-depth instruction that renews your passion for your work.

ERI instructors are engaging, passionate and dynamic experts in their fields. We offer a wide variety of courses and continuously add new courses to help therapists keep up with their ever-evolving field. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you continue your education and improve your patients’ outcomes.

Back-to-School Savings from ERI!

As summer begins to wind down…ERI is happy to offer a few special savings to school-based therapists heading back-to-school! 

SAVE $100 when you register for ERI’s 23rd Annual Therapies in the School Conference before 8/31/22. Use coupon code THERAPIES2022 at checkout.

SAVE $50 on any school-based multi-day webinar*. Use coupon code SCHOOLWEBINAR22 at checkout. 

SAVE $25 on any school-based online series*. Use coupon code SCHOOLONLINE22 at checkout.

* Coupon codes expire 9/17/22, must be used at time of registration. Cannot be combined with other discounts. Valid for webinars $369+/online series $299+.