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Student opportunities in Child Life
Exploring the Child Life profession
Interested in a career in Child Life, but not sure where to start? Check out these available resources.
1. If you are interested in gaining more experience working with children and families in a pediatric healthcare setting, please visit our Volunteer Services website for requirements and application information.
2. To find out more information about the Child Life profession (education requirements, related fieldwork, student resources, requirements for certification), please visit Association of Child Life professionals.
3. Due to patient confidentiality and infection control, we do not offer a Job Shadow experience with the Child Life program. We do offer a “Chat with the Child Life Specialist” to high school seniors and college students who are actively working towards a career in Child Life.
- This session is offered on the second Wednesday during the months of January, April, July and October from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
- Upcoming dates: April 10, 2019; July 10, 2019; and October 9, 2019
- If you are a high school senior or college level student actively pursuing a career in Child Life, please complete the interest form for “Chat with a Child Life Specialist”
- If you have additional questions regarding the interest form or about the “Chat With a Child Life Specialist” session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Child Life Practicum
Important update: Due to unexpected staffing changes within the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Child Life department, the Child Life Practicum Experience has been cancelled for Summer 2019. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please check the webpage later in the year for updates regarding the Summer 2020 Practicum Experience. Further questions/concerns can be directed to email@example.com at this time. Thank you for your understanding during this transition.
Child Life offers a six-week, 100-hour practicum experience. The practicum is offered during the summer semester beginning the first full week in June. This experience provides an introduction to the role of the child life specialist within the hospital setting. The goal of the practicum experience is to create the foundation needed for a successful transition into a formal child life internship.
Through observation, evaluation and partnership with the Child Life team, the student will:
- Use theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom setting and implement into daily practice
- Engage in opportunities that allow for increased communication skills with patients, families and members of the health care team
- Plan and facilitate therapeutic play opportunities for the pediatric patient and his/her family
- Observe the child life specialist during formal preparation sessions and common medical procedures
- Collaborate and communicate with the multi-disciplinary health care team
- Participate in experiences that will allow for continued ability to assess children (infant through adolescence) focusing specifically on the impact of pain and illness on the pediatric patient
- Self-evaluate experiences and develop continued goals for learning
- Participate in additional learning opportunities as appropriate
- Weekly journal
- Completion of comprehensive readings coinciding with bi-weekly modules
- Observation and assessment of various child life interventions (e.g. healing environment, procedural support, preparation) for patients in each of the developmental stages
- Plan and facilitate one group activity
- Completion of developmental assessments
- Self-evaluation and evaluation of experience
- College level junior (completion of second semester of junior year) by practicum start date
- Enrolled in child life or child development-related course of study
- Minimum of an overall 3.0 GPA
- Unofficial transcript (include a transcript from each institution attended)
- Documentation of a minimum of 100 hours working with children and families in settings/capacities such as hospitals, day care facilities, camps, schools, sports, etc.
- Proof of current immunization record, CPR certification and background check (required before start date)
- Practicum application
- Personal statement
- Relevant experience verification form(s) completed by a supervisor
- Two recommendation letters (sealed in envelope, signed across flap)
- Incomplete applications will not be considered.
- All applicants will be contacted regarding the status of their application after the reviewing process has been completed. Please do not inquire by phone or email about your application status before this time.
- Applicants may be affiliated with a university/college; however, affiliation is not required to apply for the practicum experience.
- Per the practicum standards of conduct, students are allotted one sick day throughout the six week experience. Additional missed days (e.g. vacation, employment) are strongly discouraged; however, national holidays are reserved as days off.
- As we strongly believe that students should gain a plethora of experience, those who complete a Child Life Practicum at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin will not be eligible to apply for the internship program.
Deadlines and offer dates
- Application deadline: Postmarked by February 1
- Offer date: 1st full week of March
- Acceptance date: the following Tuesday
Child Life Internship
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin offers an internship opportunity that allows students to complete their Bachelor or Master’s degree requirements through a clinical internship. The sixteen week internship experience gives the student an opportunity to practice child life theories, and provides exposure to the special needs of hospitalized children in a variety of both inpatient and outpatient settings. The student will complete two rotations, which begins after a week of initial orientation.
The clinical internship is designed to complement academic studies and follows the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) curriculum modules. The purpose is to provide a clinical program for students to develop a professional identity in working with children, families and staff within a pediatric setting. Through clinical experiences students will seek, identify and develop professional responsibility, philosophies and ethics relating to child life.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s internship program has met the standards for a clinical internship program and is recognized and accredited by the ACLP.
Bachelor’s prepared candidate
A bachelor’s prepared candidate seeking an internship in child life must meet all of the following requirements prior to submission of the application. Applications that are not complete will not be reviewed for consideration. Please note that we accept students that are affiliated with a university only; we are unable to accept independent students.
- Senior level majoring in child life, child development or a related field of study
- Minimum of an overall 3.0 GPA
- Verification of 100 documented hours of experience working with children in a non-hospital setting
- Verification of 150 documented hours working with children with special health care needs (A minimum of 100 hours working with children and families in the health care setting. Additional hours can be accrued through experiences working with children and/or families in stressful situations.)
- Practicum preferred. Please include a copy of the practicum evaluation if applicable.
- Completion of a Medical Terminology Course or a Human Anatomy Course
- Valid CPR Certification required if accepted for internship
- Official ACLP Eligibility Assessment Report
Master’s prepared candidate
In addition to the above criteria, a master’s candidate must provide documentation of the following:
- Completion of a Human Anatomy Course (documented grade of C or better)
- Additional 100 hours of experience working with children in a non-hospital setting (200 total)
- Verification of a minimum 50 hour practicum experience under the supervision of a CCLS. Please include a copy of the practicum evaluation in the application.
A completed application includes the following items:
- ACLP Common Child Life Application (including items from checklist)
- Unofficial transcripts from all educational institutions attended
- ACLP verification of related experience hours (separate form required for each experience totaling the required hours needed)
- ACLP internship candidate common recommendation for (3) (reference forms submitted in a sealed and signed envelope)
Deadlines and acceptance dates
- Application deadline: March 15
- Initial offer date: 1st Tuesday of May
- Acceptance date: Following Wednesday
- Second offer date: Following Thursday
- Application deadline: Sept. 5
- Initial offer date: 2nd Tuesday of October
- Acceptance date: Following Wednesday
- Second offer date: Following Thursday
Please send your complete application packet to internship coordinators:
Kelly Rettler, CCLS
Jill Wiench, CCLS
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Family Services Department, CCC 630
P.O. Box 1997
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201
For more information, send us an email.
Next steps and interview process
- It is your responsibility to ensure the application is complete and meets the ACLP deadline dates. An incomplete application will not be considered for review.
- You will receive an email confirming receipt of your application. We will not return calls inquiring if applications have been received or where we are in our process.
- Following receipt of your application, it will be reviewed and may be selected for the next step.
- If you are selected for the next step, an on-site or Skype interview will be arranged. Applicants not selected for an interview will receive an email.
- Following the interview, offers and declines will be made via telephone and email according to the ACLP offer/acceptance dates.
Responsibilities of a Child Life intern
The student works under the supervision of a Certified Child Life specialist to develop clinical skills in therapeutic play techniques, preparation, procedural support, assessment and education. The focus is on the whole family-with recognition that the child and family are placed at the center of care. Additional learning opportunities assist the student in building knowledge and understanding of competencies outlined by the Association of Child Life Professionals.
The child life student is responsible for:
- Serving as an advocate and voice for patients and families with all members of the healthcare team
- Recognizing the family as an individual unit, incorporating age, developmental level, previous medical experience, family support system and cultural considerations in assessment and intervention
- Planning and implementing therapeutic play activities for patients on an individual basis and in a group setting
- Having an understanding of the medical condition (including potential needs and limitations of the individual patient) when developing a comprehensive plan of care
- Assisting the patient in understanding and accepting the hospital experience and maintaining a healthy attitude toward illness
- Sharing observations of patient’s behavior and interactions with the child life supervisor and other members of the health care team
- Documentation based on assessment and interventions is completed daily
- Attending and participating in educational in-services presented by child life staff/invited speakers
- Incorporating information learned from ACLP resources (EBP statements, Code of Ethical Responsibilities, and the Child Life Mission, Vision and Values) to guide practice and provide interventions for patients based in research and the use of evidence
- The Handbook of Child Life
- Meeting Children’s Psychosocial Needs across the Healthcare Continuum
- Psychosocial Care of Children in Hospitals
- Child Life in Hospitals: Theory and Practice
- Helping Children Cope with Stress
- A Pediatric Bill of Rights
- Coping in Young Children: Early Intervention Practices to Enhance Adaptive Behavior and Resilience
- Official Documents of the Child Life Council
- Making Ethical Decisions in Child Life Practice
- A Child in Pain: What Health Care Professionals Can Do
- Child Life Council Evidence Based Practice Statements
- Helping a Child Through Their Parents Serious Illness (Kathleen McCue)
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish)
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