We are excited to introduce our 500th CNT…(drumroll)…Mary Fenner OTR/L, CNT!
Mary’s start as an occupational therapist paralleled her first taste of the NICU, back in 2015, when she completed a clinical rotation at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. She instantly knew then that her passion was the NICU. Following graduation, she worked in a nursing home, but continued to stay-up-to date with the latest evidence on practice in the NICU. In 2017, she got her dream job as an occupational therapist in the Nationwide Children’s NICU at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. There, she has provided services to high-risk infants in a 38-bed Level III NICU for the past 3 years.
Fast forward to 2020…the year which nobody expected to be affected by a global pandemic! Due to the COVID-19 regulations, she and her fellow NICU therapists had to switch their practice model to reflect more telehealth. One of the benefits of spending more time in the office was that she also had more time to research neonatal therapy certification and gather her application materials. “What better time to study than during a shutdown?!” she explained. Neonatal therapy certification is one of the few good things that have come her way in 2020!
When Mary was preparing for the certification exam, references provided by the NTNCB and NANT’s IGNITE program were important parts of her journey. “Reviewing those PowerPoints [from IGNITE] was SUPER helpful. Channeling my grad school days, I made LOTS of flashcards.”
Mary’s passion for learning and her passion for evidence-based neonatal therapy practice also helped prepare her for the exam. She took advantage of many available educational opportunities. She gathered her education hours through conferences and courses, such as the Fragile Infant Feeding Institute course in 2018, Prechtl’s General Movement Assessment course in 2019, and the National Association of Neonatal Therapists Annual Conference in 2020.
We asked Mary to also share her experiences on her exam day with us, which was October 16th at 8am. The testing center was 13 minutes from her house.
As many can relate to, she recalled being super nervous. She said, “It’s been a while since I’ve taken a test like this (major flashbacks to graduate school!).” However, her passion and drive were bigger than her nervousness. Nothing could stop her from demonstrating the time and knowledge and her commitment to serving high-risk infants in the NICU. She listened to Cardi B and Third Eye Blind to get pumped up. She explained that her dad was her best friend, and he suddenly passed when she was 21 years old; “His old dorky Mickey Mouse T-shirt rode shotgun for good luck (it paid off!)!”
She added: “Luckily, the test was super applicable to my daily practice, and I felt fairly well-prepared”.