Are you interested in working with children? Does being in a health care setting interested you? A career as a child life specialist may be an option for you! Child life professionals are trained in child development and specialize in working with children in health care settings. They build on children’s strengths and help them to their medical experience.
Some of you may know that my 5 year old son recently had a stay in the hospital because of emergency surgeries and slight complications. We were at Children’s hospital for 7 days. Carter’s morale started to decrease when he found out he would need another surgery and his anxieties grew.
A child life specialist came in daily to interact with Carter. She brought in a doll for him to play doctor with. She brought in some real (but child safe) medical supplies for him to use, just like the ones he had (iv, tubing, shots, gloves, masks, etc). She also read him books about his body and explained what was going to happen. She then asked him questions to see if he understood what had already happened and what would happen. She brought in toys, games, activities, movies, etc. to brighten his time in the hospital.
I am very grateful for the child life staff at the hospital. I saw the power in what she was doing with my son.
WWW.childlife.org is a great resource! “Child Life Specialists are experts in child development, who promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Understanding that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.”
UPDATE: Beginning Fall 2010, the DCTC Child Development Program will offer the AAS Degree: Child Life Assistant