Child Life Specialist?
IIt’s every parent’s nightmare to learn that his or her child has been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness. But many children spend extended periods in hospitals each year. While growing up in a hospital setting is far from ideal, child life specialists are trained professionals who work to make the experience as positive as possible. Here’s a look at the child life profession and the role it plays in a child’s medical experience.
Child life specialists work closely with children and families in medical settings, serving as emotional support and helping develop family coping strategies. With a background in child development, psychology and counseling, child life specialists help explain medical jargon to kids and prepare them for procedures. They provide children with age-appropriate preparation for medical procedures, pain management and coping strategies, and play and self-expression activities. They also provide information, support, and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members.
While most child life programs exist in hospitals with large pediatric departments, child life specialists work in a variety of settings to provide the best care possible for children and families. For example, St. Jude’s child life program allows child life specialists to travel to a child’s school and give a presentation to the patient’s peers about his or her illness and time in the hospital. Other child life specialists work specifically in one hospital department.
Luke presenting Kizzy Marco, from Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, with the Child Life Specialist of the Month award.