Physical Therapy Neonatology Fellowship Program

About the program

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Physical Therapy (PT) Neonatology Fellowship Program is a one-year, employed, immersion experience of post professional education for physical therapists who demonstrate expertise in pediatric physical therapy. The fellowship curriculum provides advanced clinical and educational instruction for the evaluation and treatment of newborns and infants who require intensive medical care.  The program provides extensive mentoring in CHOP’s state-of-the-art 100-bed Level IV Neonatal and Infant Intensive Care Unit. Originally accredited in 2013 by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE,) it is one of only a few accredited neonatal physical therapy programs in the nation!   

The history, expertise and compassion that make Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia unique are also what makes it the best place for medical trainees.

Our philosophy

The CHOP PT Neonatology Fellowship program 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 health care team and the family is integral to the successful provision of developmental care.

In family-centered, health care 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, pain management, and follow up. The healthcare team prioritizes working collaboratively to support and empower families to fulfill parenting roles while their infants are critically ill, as well as across the continuum of care. 

Fellowship mission and outcomes

The CHOP PT Neonatology Fellowship for newborns and infants requiring intensive care 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.  The CHOP PT Neonatology Fellowship will provide the academic and clinical education necessary to graduate experts, leaders, mentors and teachers in the practice of evidence-based, family-centered, and developmental physical therapy for newborns and infants who require intensive care.

Graduates will: 

  1. Provide expert physical therapy services for newborns and infants requiring intensive care
  2. Teach and mentor others on best practices for infants and newborns undergoing intensive care  
  3. Demonstrate a strong foundation in:
    • The medical issues and interventions of preterm and full-term infants requiring intensive care;
    • The impact of intensive care on preterm and full-term sensory, motor and state development;
  4. Collaborate with other health care providers for the follow-up of infants who have graduated from neonatal and infant intensive care
  5. Collaborate with other health care providers to provide quality improvement initiatives for neonatal and infant intensive care
  6. Critically appraise and apply evidence to the practice of physical therapy with for neonates and infants undergoing intensive care

Where our fellows are now

The program has successfully graduated six fellows who are working in a variety of pediatric settings across the nation. Below is a list of graduated fellows, their years at CHOP and current locations:

  • Suzanne Shepard PT; 2013-2014; PT Supervisor Whispering Pines Preschool in New York 
  • Jolene Nelson PT; 2018-19; Providing PT services for three NICU’s for Sharp Healthcare in San Diego CA.
  • Beth Powers PT; 2019-20; PT/OT Pediatric Acute Care Clinic Coordinator at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Brenner Children’s Hospital in Wake Forest, NC. 
  • Emily Roberts PT; 2020-21; PT Acute Care Supervisor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Yasmin Khoshbacht Broomand PT; 2021-22; PT Float at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

What our fellows say about their fellowship year

“The fellowship revolutionized my practice.  It gave me the didactic knowledge and hands-on mentoring to quickly increase my competence to make me a skilled provider with our most fragile little patients. This knowledge has continued to be incredibly valuable in the early intervention setting- I understand the NICU, it’s implications and complications… I am forever grateful for the mentorship, guidance, and friendships from the faculty.”

“CHOP has an outstanding team of therapists to learn with, to learn from, and to continue to grow with.  It was a hard year personally, being so far from my husband, paying multiple rents/bills, but I would do it again in a heartbeat for the experience and relationships I gained.”

“The ever-changing, ever-learning environment that is CHOP provides an amazing opportunity for growth”

“During the fellowship, I loved being able to have mentorship from all different clinicians (PTs, OTs, SLP, Psychologists, Lactation Specialists, Nurses, Neonatologists, etc.) The opportunity to learn from different clinicians gave me a better understanding of the complex medical care the babies and families required.

“Participating in the CHOP PT Neonatal Fellowship was a pivotal moment in my career.  The mentorship, didactics, and endless support helped shape me into the specialist I am today while pursuing my passion.  I am forever grateful for the unique and tailored learning experiences and relationships made during my fellowship year.”

“I decided to do the CHOP PT NICU Fellowship 11 years into my career, and it was the best decision I ever made. The mentors and staff are tremendously knowledgeable and care deeply about your experience as a fellow.  The fellowship introduced me to the incredible CHOP PT community. I am now in the role acute care PT supervisor and am focused on optimizing PT treatment for our infant population. The NICU fellowship was such a pivotal part of my growth as a clinician, and I am forever grateful for the experience.”

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

  • American Board of Physical Therapy Certified Specialist in Pediatrics or Neurology OR Graduate of an APTA credentialed Pediatric PT Residency Program
  • Licensed or Eligible for Licensure in PA
  • APTA Membership
  • DPT Preferred

How to apply

Applications are submitted online through the Residency and Fellowship Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (RF-PTCAS.)

NICU Financial Fact Sheet Documentation

Deadline for submission is December 31.
Interviews scheduled in February and March
Program runs July–June

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

Other requirements

To carry out its mission, it is of critical importance for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to keep our patients, families and workforce safe and healthy and to support the health of our global community. In keeping with this, CHOP has mandated all workforce members (including trainees) on site at any CHOP location for any portion of their time be vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

This mandate also applies to workforce members or trainees performing work for CHOP at non-CHOP locations. Additionally, all workforce members based in or regularly scheduled to work at any New Jersey location are mandated to be both vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19, with booster timing consistent with applicable guidelines. The CHOP COVID-19 vaccine mandate is in alignment with applicable local, state and federal mandates. CHOP also requires all workforce members and trainees who work in patient care buildings or who provide patient care to receive an annual influenza vaccine. Employees may request exemption consideration for CHOP vaccine requirements for valid religious and medical reasons. Please note start dates may be delayed until candidates are fully immunized or valid exemption requests are reviewed. In addition, candidates other than those in positions with regularly scheduled hours in New Jersey, must attest to not using tobacco products.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, protected veteran status or any other protected category. CHOP is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor seeking priority referrals for protected veterans.

CHOP is committed to building an inclusive culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, connection, and community within their workplace. We are a team dedicated to fostering an environment that allows for all to be their authentic selves. We are focused on attracting, cultivating, and retaining diverse talent who can help us deliver on our mission to be a world leader in the advancement of healthcare for children.

We strongly encourage all candidates of diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to apply.


Next Steps