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Attention all NICU therapists

Last post 12-03-2014, 4:42 PM by Claire. 6 replies.
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  •  10-28-2005, 1:35 PM

    Attention all NICU therapists

    I am a 2nd year MOT student from Cleveland, Ohio.  For our administration and management class, our assignment is to develop a professional development plan for our 1st 5 years of practice.  I would eventually like to practice in the NICU and would like information from practicing therapists on what professional activities they engaged in to reach that goal.  If you could respond to this listserv with that info, I would really appreciate it!




  •  01-16-2006, 2:07 PM

    RE:Attention all NICU therapists


    I see you have not had a response to your post yet. I too have been considering a change into a NICU setting, so I'll take a crack at it. My experience includes time as an acute care therapist in a hospital setting with adult population, and time in early intervention. (I am also an experienced SNF therapist, but I doubt that will assist with NICU transition). The acute care hospital experience has exposed me to the hospital setting, which can be quite intimidiating with all the lines, tubes, cath's, equipment, disease pathways, infection control, and JCAHO to name a few. Then eraly intervention exposed me to specific childhood issues, feeding, handeling, parental involvement/education and family dynamics, behavior issues, pediatriac therapeutic approaches and equipment... again, to name a few. In addition, I have performed searches on PubMed and ProQuest and have come up with a bounty of useful information. I remember seeing a workshop ad in either Advance or OT Practice, that dealt specifically with NICU and OT's but I am having trouble locating it. There are others, for example feeding in NICU, ped NDT, and PED myofacial release. These are only a few quick thoughts and I'm sure there is much more to it. Infants in the NICU are extremly fragile and it is my understanding that the nurses are very protective of them, with good reason. I hope this helps.


  •  01-28-2006, 4:13 PM

    RE:Attention all NICU therapists

    Hello Adelle,

    I have practiced in the NICU in several hospitals, and with some excellent doc's and nurses. I started the program in one hospital, and joined in another. The basis of what I started was just me working close with the Neonatologist and the nurses. My director of rehab at that time had hired me for developing a peds out-patient base, but my past experience soon got around. The first NICU referral we had after I got there, by default, went to me becasue no one of the PT's really wanted it... they acted like it was such a problem, and so out of their normal population.   I, of course, jumped at the chance to get the patient.  The place where I had come from with experienced PT's and OT's in the NICU really had no standard eval.  the OT and PT eval was really very much the same. Narrative, and lengthy with focus on SI, feeding for OT, and PT usually with cardiac, and and and muscle/bone issues.  Well, as you can imagine, that eval took forever to complete, get together thoughts, and cover I started researching, and ended up developing my own form that had all of the early reflexes, an SI section, and a feeding section.  I eventually made it carbon, and attatched a section on to the back where my history and ID info transferred onto a plan of care which I wrote in, in kind of.... a fill inthe blank treament plan.  I did a lot of SI with feeding, and mobility.   

       I would suggest getting with a level three team for observation first.....just to see their structure.  You must expand your contacts, and when you get the chance to get a moment to get with the neonatologist, have some breif convincing information of why you are important to that little one he is seeing. Get your hands on every NICU article out there, old and new.  Start a collection of references, and go to a handeling  class.    

      After I did these things, and let the nurses get to trust me, I got to where they would ask for me by name, and when I was off, they would prefere nothing be done.  I eventually left that wonderful place just to get closer to home, and they eventually accepted another OT that I attempted to transition  for a month or so before I left. It is an awesome accomplishment, and I was so excited to see my two or three little ones every day, I miss it!

    I hope this little bit helps some... it seams there is not a lot of therapist that are very advanced in this population...good luck!

  •  04-07-2006, 2:05 AM

    RE:Attention all NICU therapists

    I see that you posted this a very long time ago, but you might still be checking!  I started working as a NICU therapist about 9 months ago, having practiced less than a year as an OT, but all of my experience was in peds/early intervention.  Having a background in early intervention is a VERY strong assett to NICU practice in that you learn the resources in the community available to NICU graduates and you get your fundamentals on typical/atypical development...and you also learn to work closely with families.  To prepare for my NICU job, I got my hands on every written resource I extremely helpful book to me was the Wolf and Glass book (Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Infancy).  Rosmarie Bigsby also wrote another book, Developmental Interventions in the NICU, that I found helpful.  I observed a Level III NICU OT one day a week for about two months prior to my job, and I've gone to several NICU on feeding and a big conference on neonatal care. 

    Honestly, though, the best way I found to feel comfortable and competent in the NICU setting was to be IN the unit a LOT with my hands on babies, under direct supervision of an experienced NICU therapist (which I was very fortunate to have).  There are two other NICU therapists in the city that I work in and we have our own little 'network'...I call the others frequently for questions and resources...we share handouts, info, etc. The NICU is a very intimidating environment at first, but now it is like home.  It takes a long time, but once you've established your role and gotten a good rapport with the staff, you become a trusted member of the team.  I love my work....there's nothing like the NICU. 

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

  •  04-08-2007, 8:47 AM

    RE:RE:Attention all NICU therapists

    If I can't get a job right away as an EI therapist, would having a job as a case manager be helpful in the meantime?

    I have been researching NICU articles.  My next step ( I need to gather courage) is to call the NICU where my son was a patient and ask the OT if I can observe her.  I don't know how she will respond to this, so I have been putting it off.  I have not actually ever met her, but know from my son's week long stay that their level III has an OT on staff. How did you get to where you observed the NICU therapist?  Did you just call and ask to observe?

  •  07-25-2007, 4:21 PM

    RE:Attention all NICU therapists

    I would strongly recommend looking into the Brazleton course.  They have done extensive work in this area and have developed a tool, the Clinical Neonatal  Behavioral Assessment Scale.  You'll learn more about state regulation, coping mechanisms and care practices and especially family centered care and support, which is so important in the world of NICU where families can feel quite overwhelmed.  The website is

    And don't be afraid to contact a NICU OT.  Most are quite used to residents/nurses/students coming in to observe and it's part of their job.  Good luck!

  •  12-03-2014, 4:42 PM

    Re: RE:Attention all NICU therapists

    I realize this was posted a long time ago, but I am very interested in finding out information on how you started an OT program in the NICU. I would be very interested in getting more information from you, if possible. Thanks