My goal for this blog is to share my experience and knowledge on becoming a Child Life Specialist. I hope to inspire someone, even if it is simply just one person to consider taking the career path as a CLS. To show readers to connect to children with compassion and explain the benefits that come out of choosing a career in working with children.
The video below is a CLS at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. This is one of the first videos I saw that introduced me into the child life career. It is an informative video that explains what a typical day is like around the hospital.
Next week is my Child Life Specialist 101 Information session at Texas Children’s Hospital here in Houston. This class will allow me to be certified to shadow an actual CLS in the hospital setting. Shadowing is a huge opportunity than will allow me be able to watch and participate in a variety of things!
After a tedious application process and a month long online orientation I have finally recieved and interview for Alabama Childrens’ for next semester!! The interview is the final process and something that I have been so anxious about. If I end up nailing the interview I will be offered a position to shadow and help out in the Alabama Childrens child life unit. Wish me luck!!
As I have mentioned in a previous earlier post, I am Jessica Duda. I am a senior at the University of Alabama. As I approach my last semester as a college student, I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about my time at the University, as well as, my future. My favorite part about UA has to be my decision to join a sorority. It has led me to great friends, leadership skills, and so many outside opportunities. An older girl in my sorority who was also pursing a degree in CLS, is a big reason on why I have chosen to stick with the career. She provided me with so much information and help and without Zeta I wouldn’t have been able to gain that extra insight.
Once you have completed your practicum hours you can begin to apply for internships, which from what I have gathered is the most crucial part of the whole process. During the internship process you are are working hand in hand with children with minimal help so that you can learn to work in the field. I hope to apply to internships in Texas, Nashville, Oklahoma, and Louisiana just to keep my options open. The internship is the most important part because it is where you will ultimately get certified to be a Child Life Specialist.
To learn more about the whole process you can look at this internship and certification information site.
Once my volunteer hours are completed I can begin to apply for the practicum programs. The Child Life Practicum is set out to give people the opportunity to gain insight and exposure to the Child Life profession and help students understand the unique needs of hospitalized children and their families. Practicum programs are usually 8 weeks long and include 100 hours of work in the field. I hope to be able to do my practicum work at a hospital somewhere in Texas.
Volunteering is a crucial step in becoming a CLS. Most importantly because it allows you to be in a hospital environment and shadow actual CLS, which can help you decide if the career is actually something you can see yourself doing. It is best if volunteering is done at childrens’ hospital or in a similar place where a children are facing issues and medical problems. If one does not complete the required amount of volunteer hours then they can not even apply for the practicum program. Next semester I am volunteering at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham and get to shadow in their Child Life Unit!!
Many of you may be wondering what exactly is a CSL. In short, child life specialist are pediatric health care professionals who work with children and families in hospitals and other settings to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability. They serve as emotional support and helping develop family coping strategies and help explain medical issues to kids and prepare them for procedures.
Becoming a Child Life Specialist (CSL) is a very interactive process. Psychology, human development, child development, and family studies are all suggested majors. Once a major is declared one must begin to obtain a certain amount of required volunteer hours in order to be able to apply for the next steps which are: practicum program and an internship.