Physical Therapy Neonatology Fellowship Program

About the program

The Department of Physical Therapy’s Neonatology Fellowship Program is a post-professional clinical and didactic educational program, designed to significantly advance therapist preparation as experts in the field of newborn and infant physical therapy in the intensive care setting. The program combines opportunities for ongoing clinical mentoring with a scientific basis for advanced practice.  At the conclusion of the experience, therapists will have the skills necessary to advocate for efficient, cost effective, and evidence-based physical therapy programs for infants requiring intensive care and their families. Graduated fellows will have the tools needed to successfully collaborate as essential members of the healthcare team caring for critically-ill newborns and infants with their families across the continuum of care. 

Our philosophy

The CHOP PT Neonatology Fellowship for newborns and infants requiring intensive care is based on the principles of developmental and family-centered care. Developmental care is a method of care delivery where all infant care (medical, nursing, ancillary) is prioritized and provided in a way that supports the baby’s neurobehavioral development. Critical thinking — as well as collaboration among the healthcare team and the family — is integral to the successful provision of developmental care.

In family-centered healthcare the importance of the family as the constant in the baby’s life is recognized by collaborating with the family in the decision-making of all aspects of health services including treatment choices, aggressive treatment, pain management and follow up.

The healthcare team prioritizes working collaboratively to support and empower families to fulfill parenting roles. In addition, healthcare team members proactively encourage and assist families to assume parenting roles while their babies are critically ill, as well as across the continuum of care.

Mission

The CHOP PT Neonatology Fellowship is dedicated to supporting the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Vision of transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience across the lifespan and the CHOP mission of advancing healthcare for children. This fellowship will provide the academic and clinical education necessary to graduate experts in the practice of evidence-based family-centered and developmental physical therapy for newborns and infants who require intensive care. 

Graduated fellows, informed by a broad understanding of the needs and vulnerabilities of critically ill infants and their families, will have the skills necessary to advocate for efficient, cost effective, and evidence-based PT programs for infants requiring intensive care and their families. 

Graduated fellows will lead, teach, and mentor others in the practice of family-centered developmental care as well as collaborate with other health care providers in the developmental follow-up of infants. Graduated fellows will be consumers of as well as contributors to the evidence base, and will exemplify professional behavior, critical thinking, self-reflection, empathy, lifelong learning, and self-development. 

Program goals

  1. To support CHOP’s mission of advancing healthcare for children with a focus on the needs of critically ill infants and newborns and infants and their families.
  2. To support the American Physical Therapy Association’s Vision by developing graduate fellows who will be experts in promoting optimal motor development, preventing iatrogenic consequences, diagnosing impairments, and providing interventions that promote activity and participation for hospitalized newborns and infants with their families.  
  3. To develop physical therapists who are  experts in the best family-centered developmental physical therapy practice standards in examination, diagnosis/classification, intervention, and outcome measurement for newborns and infants who require intensive care and their families.
  4. To develop physical therapists who are skilled in implementing and disseminating best practice standards for family-centered developmental physical therapy care for newborns and infants who require intensive care and their families.  
  5. To provide each fellow with a strong foundation and understanding of:
    • The medical issues and interventions of preterm and full-term infants requiring intensive care
    • Fetal, preterm and full-term infant sensory, motor and state development
    • The intensive care environment and culture
    • The impact of the intensive care environment on babies and families
  6. To prepare each fellow to collaborate  with other health care providers for  the follow up of infants at risk for developmental delay, in quality improvement initiatives for neonatal and infant intensive care, and in implementation of clinical best practice for newborns and infants.  
  7. To prepare each fellow to critically appraise and apply evidence relevant to the practice of physical therapy in the population of infants at high risk for developmental delays and their families.   
  8. To produce autonomous practitioners who are critical thinkers, skillful negotiators, strong patient and family advocates, reflective, empathic, and committed to lifelong learning and self-development. 

Overall program outcome

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Physical Therapy Neonatology fellowship will prepare physical therapists to fulfill the mission of CHOP to advance healthcare for children, and to fulfill the APTA vision of “transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience across the lifespan.”Additionally, graduates will be expert providers in the specialty practice of developmental, family-centered, and evidence-based neonatal physical therapy.

The fellowship program will develop clinicians who are skilled at advocating for physical therapy programs for critically ill infants and their families, leading, teaching and mentoring others in the practice of developmental and family-centered care and who critically appraise and contribute to the scientific literature. The program will cultivate professionals to be empathic and reflective practitioners, critical thinkers, and to embrace lifelong learning and self-development.

By the end of the Neonatology Fellowship fellows will:

  • Be recognized as experts in the practice of physical therapy for newborns and infants requiring intensive care.
  • Provide the best family-centered developmental physical therapy practice standards in examination, diagnosis/classification, intervention, and outcome measurement for newborns and infants who require intensive care and their families.
  • Lead, teach and advocate for family-centered, developmental physical therapy care of newborns and infants requiring intensive care and their families.
  • Be equipped to implement and disseminate best practice standards for family-centered developmental physical therapy for newborns and infants who require intensive care. 
  • Demonstrate a strong foundation in:
    • The medical issues and interventions of preterm and full term infants requiring intensive care
    • Fetal, preterm, and full-term infant sensory, motor, and state development
    • The intensive care environment and culture
    • The  impact of the intensive care environment on newborns, infants  and their families
  • Be prepared to collaborate  with other health care providers for:
    • Implementation of clinical best practice for newborns and infants
    • The follow up of infants at risk for developmental delay
    • Quality improvement initiatives for neonatal and infant intensive care
  • Be prepared to critically appraise and apply evidence relevant to the practice of physical therapy in the population of infants at high risk for developmental delays and their families.
  • Be independent practitioners who are critical thinkers, skillful negotiators, strong patient and family advocates, and committed to lifelong learning and self-development.

Program highlights

In addition to the required didactic and mentoring sessions, the CHOP Neonatology Fellowship will provide physical therapy clinicians with many unique learning opportunities available in the CHOP N/IICU. These opportunities include:

  • Weekly participation in teaching rounds with Neonatology staff
  • Weekly participation in developmental rounds with CHOP N/IICU interdisciplinary team
  • Weekly participation in N/IICU surgical and medical case discussions
  • Attendance at Neonatology case conferences
  • Participation with N/IICU Family Service Council

Eligibility Requirements

  • Licensed or eligible for licensure in PA
  • American Board of Physical Therapy Certified Specialist (ABPTCS) in Pediatrics, or a graduate of a APTA credentialed Pediatric PT Residency Program, or eligible to sit for the ABPTCS examination in Pediatrics

How to apply

Effective Oct. 2, 2017, applications must be submitted through the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education centralized application system.

For more information, please contact Diane Versaw-Barnes PT, DPT, PCS, at 267-426-5002 or versaw@email.chop.edu.

Tobacco-free hiring policy

To help preserve and improve the health of our patients, their families and our employees, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a tobacco-free hiring policy. This policy applies to all candidates for employment (other than those with regularly scheduled hours in New Jersey) for all positions, including those covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Job applicants who apply after July 1, 2014 will be expected to sign an attestation stating they’ve been free of nicotine or tobacco products in any form for the prior thirty (30) days. They will also undergo a cotinine test as a part of the Occupational Health pre-placement drug screen administered after the offer of employment has been accepted but before the first day of hire.

Exemptions: Attending physicians (excluding CHOP physicians in the Care Network), psychologists, principal investigators and/or Penn-based faculty are exempt from this process to better align with our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.