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Physical Therapy Programs

  • NICU Physical Therapy Fellowship

UNC Health Neonatal Physical Therapy Fellowship

Childlife OT

UNC Hospital’s Neonatal Physical Therapy Fellowship is dedicated to supporting UNC Health’s mission to improve the health and wellbeing of North Carolinians and others whom we serve. Graduated fellows, equipped with a broad understanding of the complexities and challenges faced by neonatal patients and families, will have the experience and skill necessary to deliver efficient and effective evidence based care to improve the health and wellbeing of the newborn or infant requiring intensive care. Aligning with UNC Health’s vision to be the nation’s leading public academic health care system, this fellowship will provide the academic and clinical education necessary to graduate experts in the practice of neonatal physical therapy who excel in leading clinical teams, teaching, developing other professionals and contributing to research. Recognizing the advanced knowledge and experience needed in Neonatal Physical Therapy, program faculty and fellows seek to share their knowledge and skills widely to provide compassionate care and improve developmental and health outcomes for this vulnerable patient population.

Fellowship Program Philosophy

The multidisciplinary faculty of the program represent varied areas of expertise and are committed to developing fellows who are recognized leaders within the field of neonatal physical therapy. Fellows will develop excellence in examination, diagnosis, intervention, consultation, teaching and the integration of best evidence into the patient care they provide within Neonatology.

Fellows who successfully complete the program will be prepared for independent clinical practice in high-risk infant settings.


You will learn from mentors who are experts in neonatal therapy with a variety of specialty certifications and training. During weekly mentored time, the fellow evaluates and treats patients with a mentor. Individualized instruction and feedback is provided during each mentored session. The fellow’s mentor rotates regularly to provide a variety of perspectives and expertise across the neonatal program. The current primary mentors include the following individuals:

Kerry Blazek* PT, DPT
Dana McCarty* PT, DPT
Deborah Givens PT, PhD, DPT
Keith Compson PT, MBA
Lauren Quinn OTD, OTR/L
Kimberly Sellinger MS, CCC-SLP
Nicollette C. DeLaine, PT, MPT

*Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Pediatrics (PCS)


The program’s curriculum is designed in modules that address each area of the Description of Fellowship Practice. These areas include, but are not limited to: Medical Issues and Interventions in the NICU, Embryologic and Fetal Development, Preterm Infant Development, Full-term Infant Development, Early Intervention and Follow-Up, Introduction to Infant Feeding, Environment of Care, Evidence-Based Practice in Neonatology, Meeting and Assessing the Family, Scientific Inquiry, Administration, Teaching and Learning, and Intervention-Based Modules. Didactic work complements clinical instruction in a concurrent fashion and is administered through a combination of independent study and face-to-face instruction. Written assignments, written examinations, live patient examinations and self-assessments provide the fellow with regular benchmarks to ensure their learning progresses throughout the duration of the program.


The core components of the fellowship program include: neonatal clinical practice, mentored clinical practice, didactic activities, written patient case reports, research, teaching and professional community service. Fellows must successfully complete each didactic module, two live patient exams, and one written exams and submit a manuscript to a professional journal.

Fellow Schedule

Fellows will practice at UNC Children’s Hospital for 30 hours per week. The fellow will also have mentored clinical work and didactic learning activities each week. Given the scope of fellow learning opportunities, fellows should expect to spend 50-60 hours per week completing program activities. Some holiday, weekend, and evening coverage is expected.

Mentored Time: This is clinical learning time in which a mentor and fellow are seeing patients together. The fellow is usually leading the patient care with guidance from the mentor and pre/post-care discussions.

Didactic Time: This is academic learning time completed by the fellow, which includes self-study modules (readings and evidence analysis), mentor/fellow discussions, and psychomotor learning activities. Module mentors plan, administer and evaluate didactic learning activities.

Other Activities: Fellows are required to develop, write and present patient case reports based on patients seen during clinical work. This time also includes activities such as shadowing medical professionals or serving as an assistant in the UNC Chapel Hill DPT program. The fellows will also participate in community service activities such as attending developmental fairs and providing pro bono consultation.

Salary, Tuition and Benefits

Fellows are full-time employees (with competitive salary and benefits). Fellows also receive Paid Time Off for vacation, sick and holiday time off from clinic work. There is no tuition associated with the program.


Applicants must be residents of the U.S. and have NC PT licensure two months list (PCS) credentials, and/or have graduated from an ABPTRFE-accredited pediatric residency program.

Eligible candidates must hold the Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS) credentials, and/or have graduated from an ABPTRFE-accredited pediatric residency program. Pediatric acute care experience is preferred.

If you have not completed a residency and do not hold the PCS credentials, you may apply to our Path to Fellowship Program. The Path to Fellowship Program is a 24 month curriculum in which participants complete their pediatric residency in year one of the program, followed by fellowship in year two. Apply for this program.

Program Accreditation

UNC Health Neonatal Physical Therapy Fellowship program is in the process of seeking candidacy through ABPTRFE as a part of the accreditation process.

Application and Enrollment

Application for 2021 is open on PTCAS. Start date of fellowship is August 9th 2021.

Helpful Links

NC Children's Hospital Rehabilitation

NC Children's Hospital Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE)