Clinician Spotlight: Elizabeth Jeanson PT, DPT, CNT, DCS, NTMTC

Dandle•LION is proud to partner with expert clinicians to provide the best available education and evidence-based care strategies. This month, we are excited to introduce you to Dr. Elizabeth Jeanson PT, DPT, CNT,  DCS, NTMTC. Elizabeth is the Developmental Specialist and Neonatal Therapist in Neonatal Intensive Care at Sanford Children’s Hospital/USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota!

In her role as the developmental specialist, Elizabeth has the opportunity to implement developmental care protocols and practices for the unit and complete yearly developmental care quality improvement projects. In her role as a neonatal therapist Elizabeth is involved in direct patient care, family support, and education at the bedside. 

Over the past 22 years, both Sanford Children’s Hospital and DuPont Hospital for Children have benefited from Elizabeth’s expertise and passion. Elizabeth completed NIDCAP training and Infant Behavioral Assessment certification. She is NeoNatal Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) and Neonatal Touch and Massage Therapy (NTMTC) certified, as well as being a certified neonatal therapist (CNT). 

As a firm believer in sharing information and experiences, Elizabeth has presented nationally on topics including sensory development, positioning, nonpharmacologic pain management, change management, quality improvement, and Infant Driven Feeding™ Implementation. She is a NANT, Neonatal Touch and Massage, and Dr. Brown’s Medical lecturer. 

Elizabeth has published two articles in peer-reviewed journals: One to One Bedside Nurse Education as a Means to Improve Positioning Consistency in 2013 and Applying the Four Disciplines of Execution to Promote Culture Change in the NICU in 2020. Currently, Elizabeth is formulating a change process mentoring system and working towards creative integration of trauma-informed care into the daily interactions with infants and families in the NICU.

9 Therapist Certifications To Enhance Your Clinical Practice

You may have seen our recent blog post about Nurse Certifications, but don’t think we forgot about our Therapist Certifications! Check out the different specialty certifications and certificates available to therapists in the NICU.

Professional Board Certifications

Certified Neonatal Therapist (CNT)

The CNT certification from the Neonatal Therapy Certification Board (NTCB) identifies NICU professionals who are qualified to administer therapeutic care to NICU patients. Find more information about the certification requirements here.

APTA Pediatric Specialist Certification

Governed by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), this certification identifies “individuals who have demonstrated advanced clinical knowledge and skills in physical therapy specialty areas.” Learn more about the specialty areas offered here.

Board Certification in Pediatrics (BCP)

From American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), this certification recognizes those with “specialized knowledge and critical thinking in the area of pediatric occupational therapy” according to the AOTA certification information page. Learn about the certification eligibility criteria here.

Additional Certifications and Certificates

Neonatal Touch & Massage Certification™ (NTMC)

This certification, according to the NTMC homepage, is “an exclusively neonatal, one-of-a-kind certification for neonatal healthcare providers.” It provides a combination of holistic, neonatal, and systems theory in its approach to massage. Learn more about this certification process here.

Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale Practitioner (NOMAS)

The Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale was developed in 1983 by Marjorie Meyer Palmer MA, CCC-SLP, and is used for evaluating “neonatal sucking patterns in preterm and term infants” according to their international homepage. This certification requires a three-day training course, bedside practicum, and test in order to become a certified NOMAS practitioner. Learn more about training and becoming certified here.

Neuro-Developmental Treatment (C/NDT)

The Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association is a not-for-profit association “consisting of therapists, consumers and other professionals dedicated to the use and advancement of Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT) approach to multidisciplinary treatment of neuromuscular dysfunction” according to their certification brochure

The NDT Certification™ ensures the continuous integration of current NDT Theory and Practice. Learn more about the certification and its requirements here.

Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI®)

The International Loving Touch Foundation Inc. is one of the world’s first established training programs for infant massage, its founder and director Diana Moor, MS, LMT, CIMI® has been teaching the subject since the early 1970s. 

The Certified Infant Massage Instructor program is accessible either asynchronous or synchronous online from their website. Learn more about their online certification program here.

Certified Manual Lymph Drainage Therapist (CMLDT)

From the Academy of Lymphatic Studies, this 5-day, 40-hour certification course is ideally structured to introduce the techniques and applications of the treatment known as Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) — developed by Emil Vodder, Ph.D. Learn more about the course and its requirements here.

Trauma-Informed Professional Certificate (TIP)

This certificate is provided by Caring Essentials Collaborative, LLC. It is an assessment-based certificate program that “realizes the pervasiveness of trauma in everyday life and its lifelong lasting effects” according to their certificate information. Learn more about this certificate here.

Enhance Your Clinical Practice With These Nurse Certifications

Enhance Your Clinical Practice With These Nurse Certifications!

Working in the NICU is a highly unique form of nursing that branches out further into multiple specialties depending on the specific population of infants a nurse works with. There are many different certifications within NICU nursing that allow for more specialized care. Here are a few:

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

Critical-Care Registered Nurse (CCRN®)

This neonatal certification is for nurses “who provide direct care to acutely or critically ill neonatal patients regardless of their physical location.” Nurses who work in NICUs, cardiac care units, combined ICU/CCUs, medical/surgical ICUs, or other similar areas may be interested in this certification.

Find more information here.

Acute/Critical Care Knowledge Professional (CCRN-K)

This neonatal certification is for nurses “who influence the care delivered to acutely or critically ill neonatal patients but do not primarily or exclusively provide direct care.” Nurses who work as clinical educators, manager/supervisors, directors, or other similar areas may be interested in this certification.

Find more information here.

Neonatal Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (ACCNS-N)

This is an entry-level advanced practice board certification “for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) educated at the graduate level to provide advanced nursing care across the continuum of healthcare services—wellness through acute care—to meet the specialized needs of the neonatal patient population.”

Find more information here.

National Certification Corporation (NCC)

Registered Nurse Certified – Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC®)

According to the NCC summary, this certification “focuses on the care of the high-risk neonate. It demonstrates the specialty knowledge of Neonatal ICU nurses who provide care to acutely and critically ill neonatal patients and their families within an intensive care environment.” 

Find more information here.

Neonatal Neuro-Intensive Care (C-NNIC)

This certification “focuses on the neurological care of at-risk or impaired neonates within an intensive care environment” according to the NCC certification summary. It was created for those working in neonatal intensive care who want “to improve overall outcomes for these extremely vulnerable patients.”

Find more information here.

Neonatal Pediatric Transport (C-NPT®)

This certification provides designation for a paramedic, physician, respiratory therapist, neonatal nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse, or physician assistant to “provide stabilization and transport interventions to critically ill neonatal and pediatric patients in all types of settings” according to the NCC summary.

Find more information here.

Care of the Extremely Low Birth Weight Neonate (C-ELBW)

This subspecialty certification is designed for those who “provide care to acutely and critically ill extremely low birth weight neonates and their families within an intensive care environment to improve overall outcomes.”

Find more information here.

Low Risk Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-LRN®)

This certification is for licensed registered nurses in the US and Canada who have a minimum of two years of specialized experience in “providing care to acutely and chronically ill neonatal patients and their families within level II, chronic care, special care, or step-down units.”

Find more information here.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC®)

This Core certification provides an entry-level, competency-based examination for licensed registered nurses in the US and Canada who have completed a US accredited nurse practitioner program to “provide care to acutely and critically ill neonatal patients and their families within hospitals or outpatient settings.”

Find more information here.

Laptop on a desk with the DandleLION Positioning Competency Toolkit webpage on it

Utilizing The Positioning Competency Toolkit

Learn about our latest educational tool for NICU clinicians— The Positioning Competency Toolkit. The Toolkit is grounded in the 5 Tenets of Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning™ and explains how to use each part to achieve better outcomes for premature infants.

What’s Included

The Positioning Competency Toolkit, created by the interdisciplinary Dandle•LION Clinical Education team, is a multimedia resource designed to enhance positioning practice that can be used with any positioning system or device.

The Toolkit was developed to support the standardization of best practices and includes:

  • The Positioning Pearls video series, featuring an introductory video that sets the 5 Tenets™ as the foundation for NICU positioning
  • A visual overview of the 5 Tenets
  • Positioning Competency Tool for clinicians
  • Neonatal Neurodevelopmental Assessment of Posture and Positioning (NeoNAPP) tool to evaluate baby’s positioning against our 5 Tenets

Applications of the Positioning Competency Toolkit may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Unit based clinical orientation
  2. Clinical skills competency training
  3. Quality improvement projects designed to improve positioning practices

How To Use The Toolkit

The Positioning Pearls Video Series

There are seven scenario-based positioning videos in the series.  Start with Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning, the first video of our Positioning Pearls series, that gives clinicians:

  • Familiarity with the 5 Tenets in less than 10 minutes
  • Real-world examples of each tenet in the clinical setting
  • Just-in-time inservice training prior to using the NeoNAPP

The 5 Key Tenets Overview Document

This overview document outlines the 5 Tenets and explains why they promote the healthy development of the brain and body.  By mimicking the womb as much as possible, this approach not only has a substantial impact on the neurodevelopment of preterm infants but also positively impacts the development of future motor milestones.

Positioning Competency Tool

This tool is a pre-and/or post-educational assessment of a caregiver’s skill. It promotes and encourages the proper flow of care and neurodevelopmental integrity by examining the positioning techniques of the assessed clinicians.

The Positioning Competency Tool provides clinicians with:

  • 16 care parameters that relate to proper caregiving and positioning before, within, and after the 5 Tenets
  • A quantifiable assessment that reflects novice to expert-level proficiency in Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning
  • An indication of successful competency in providing the 5 Key Tenets of Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning


The Neonatal Neurodevelopmental Assessment of Posture and Positioning (NeoNAPP) is a tool with pictorial examples that are used to assess a baby’s positioning based on the 5 Tenets. Scores on each tenet can range from 0 (absence of the tenet) to 2 (successful attainment of the tenet).

Clinical implications for the total score are listed at the bottom of the tool:

  • < 7 points – Needs Improvement: Increase positional support
  • 7–9 points – Good: Ensure midline alignment, flexion and containment
  • 10 points – Optimal: Maintain and document position

Why Is The Toolkit Important?

Neurodevelopmentally supportive positioning promotes both neuroprotective age-appropriate developmental care and trauma-informed care. It positively influences physiologic function and stability, sensory development, neurobehavioral organization, skin integrity, thermoregulation, bone density, and sleep, optimizing growth, brain development, and neonatal developmental outcomes. In alignment with work by the National Association of Neonatal Therapists and National Association of Neonatal Nurses, DandleLION Medical has created the 5 Key Tenets of Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning.  The 5 Tenets can be viewed as the gold standard for positioning – flexion, midline alignment, containment, 360 degrees of proprioception, and free movement with recoil.

Educational & Consultation Resources

Laptop sitting on desk, with "Introducing: Dandle Lion Positioning Pearls" and four preview images of positioning pearl videos on the screen.

Everything You Need To Know: Dandle•LION Positioning Pearls

The Positioning Pearls Series

The Positioning Pearls video series was born out of a need for clinically-focused positioning education that speaks to the nuances of positioning babies in various stages of hospitalization.  

Each video follows the same cadence: context, positioning goals, and positioning strategies. In under 10 minutes, each video provides NICU, PICU, and CVICU clinicians with practical advice for positioning their patients using Dandle•LION products with a focus on The 5 Key Tenets of Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning™ (NSP).

The first Positioning Pearl, titled Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning, gives an overview of the 5 Tenets™ with real-life examples of how each tenet might look in clinical practice.  The remaining videos build upon that knowledge, focusing on specific clinical situations: 

Why Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning Is Important

NSP benefits patients, caregivers, and families. The foundations of NSP are the positioning and sensations provided by the womb, which are crucial to healthy infant development. When babies are in the NICU, they miss out on the experience of the womb, which can affect structural and functional development of the brain and body – including the muscles, bones, and senses.

To bridge the gap between womb and NICU and protect biomechanical, musculoskeletal, and neurosensory development, clinicians should focus on the 5 Key Tenets of Neurodevelopmentally Supportive Positioning™ regardless of which positioning aids are available at the bedside: 

  • Flexion 
  • Containment
  • Midline Alignment 
  • 360 degrees of proprioception
  • Free movement with recoil

Literature has demonstrated that providing hospitalized babies with NSP results in improved duration and quality of sleep, leading to:

  • Increased caloric preservation and growth
  • Protected brain development 
  • Decreased respiratory support 
  • Increased parent satisfaction 

With more sound sleep in the NICU, there may be other benefits for babies, clinicians, and parents including:

  • Decreased procedural touch time spent repositioning babies to achieve comfort 
  • Decreased nuisance alarms caused by movement, discomfort, or agitation 
  • Improved parental perception of their baby’s comfort 

For more information, see The National Association of Neonatal Therapists (NANT) white paper titled Development Matters that provides clinicians with a clinical reasoning tool to help grade positioning aids against the literature, and the comprehensive literature review published by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) in 2017 titled Positioning the Neonate for Best Outcomes.

Suggested Uses for Positioning Pearls

  • Just-in-time training for new clinical staff, or for the first time caring for a particular type of patient 
  • Clinical skills competency teaching and evaluation
  • QI projects to improve positioning in a specific population

Accessing the Positioning Pearls

The Positioning Pearls video series can be found on our Vimeo Channel or on our website.

by Dandle•LION Director of Education Alex Luton MN, BS, RN

Clinician Spotlight: Liz Drake MN, NNP, CNS, RN-NICU, C-ELBW

Dandle•LION is proud to partner with expert clinicians to provide the best available education and evidence-based care strategies. We are excited to introduce you to Elizabeth Drake, MN, NNP, CNS, RN-NICU, C-ELBW, the current CNS in the NICU at CHOC Children’s of Orange County, Mission Viejo Campus!

Liz is also a published author, nationally recognized national conference presenter, consultant and Co-owner of @EngageGrowThrive, and co-developer of the Small Baby Care Specialist Program.

Liz Drake has been practicing in the NICU for 40 years. She has practiced in different roles throughout her career, but her time spent at the bedside with patients, families, and team members are most meaningful.

Extremely passionate about quality Improvement, caring for extremely low birth weight infants, and neuroprotective care, Drake has a strong desire to teach all members of the healthcare team about the uniqueness and language of the premature infant.

As an active clinician, she focuses on how every touch and relational experience we have with premature infants and their families can have an impact. Drake is actively involved with the California State Collaborative in order to partner with families and lead quality improvement initiatives.

Introducing The Dandy Blog!

We are really excited about the launch of our Dandy blog because it helps us further our education efforts in the field of neurodevelopmental care.  We will provide information about product and practice innovations in neurodevelopmental care and positioning.  

Some of our upcoming content includes:

  • Innovative tools for positioning
  • Training videos for clinically different medical scenarios
  • Case studies 

Our mission is to partner with NICU caregivers to provide tools and education to support you in creating better outcomes for premature and sick babies and we are going to be talking about exactly this on our blog. 

Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on how you can continue to improve outcomes for your tiniest patients.