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Old 08-06-2010, 03:14 PM
34 posts, read 354,038 times
Reputation: 93


When my son was in children's hospital I was treated like a third-party interference. We did not have cls then.
However, so many children are living in incredibly bad situations and need intervention, hope this type of profession will make a difference for them and not be used to place a block between families and children, or to lessen the power of parental rights for decent parents as is happening more frequently now.


I'm sorry you've had that experience. I'm not sure how my profession can put a block between children and families at all. I'm not sure I understand your concern- can you clarify? We are based on the ideas of family centered care and are the ones pushing for family involvement when appropriate (which is most of the time.) In general, we believe that parental presence is necessary whenever possible (including while anesthesia is being given, during procedures, during medical rounds, etc.) We also believe that parents know their children best and need to be a part of the healthcare team.
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:32 PM
34 posts, read 354,038 times
Reputation: 93
All you see is sadness, so if you have the type of personality to do a rather depressing career, then great.

I hear this type of comment frequently, but I'm going to have to disagree. I can see why people feel that way; however, I don't just see sadness.

I work specifically with children with cancer and blood disorders. If I explained in detail my day, you'd probably laugh quite a bit. The kids I work with are kids first and patients second. They laugh and play just like other kids. I don't really know how to explain this well, but we spend a LOT of time laughing at work. Our clinic is not a sad place. You might see a child cry when he gets a needle, but five minutes later, he's playing and having fun. You're more likely to see a child crying, though, because I'm out of Play-Doh or another child won't share the Legoes. It is quite common for kids to not want to leave.

Procedures are tough; I won't lie. I don't enjoy watching spinal taps, either. Thankfully, most of my patients are sedated, aside from a few teens who want to try without. We use numbing cream for needle sticks, are proactive with nausea and vomiting meds, and try to make the kids as comfortable as possible so they do feel like playing and having fun.

Yeah, some parts are sad, and some are absolutely horrific. Thankfully, the absolutely horrific times are rare. Most kids with cancer get better. And the sad times? They do happen. I still think cancer is an unfair beast and I will never understand why kids get sick. But the good times are there, too, and every single day is filled with lots of smiles.
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:23 PM
1 posts, read 3,121 times
Reputation: 10
Default Question about options in becoming a CLS

Hi CTkel,

I know its been awhile since your last post but thought I would ask you a question anyway.

I am currently looking through my options of how best to enter the field. My bachelors is in Marketing so I obviously don't have enough appropriate courses to qualify for a Child Life Internship at this point. I did take a few psych courses such as child growth and development and intro to psych during my undergrad which I assume may count? I am also taking Into to Early Child Education and a Medical Terminology class at a community college this semester to strengthen my background.

I was wondering if I can take necessary courses at a community college in order to qualify for an internship or if I should go the graduate school route. I will be starting to volunteer at a children's hospital this month, and do have a large amount of experience with children including experience with children with special needs.

Anyway I would love any input you may be able to give me! I am very excited to eventually become a Child Life Specialist

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Old 02-18-2011, 12:06 AM
1 posts, read 3,058 times
Reputation: 14
broadanon - If you don't want to pay for the services of a CLS.. you are more than welcome to go to one of the lower quality hospitals. There is nothing wrong with taking a good paying job that helps seriously ill children cope with their ailments. If someone is willing to pay you for doing good, honest work, why should they not accept that? There is honest value in Child Life. I personally would pay extra money to help ease my child's suffering. I would definitely choose a hospital with a CL program over one that didn't. If volunteers could do the job just as well as a child life specialist, the profession wouldn't exist, it would all just be volunteers.

It sounds like you are just an angry person in general. I am guessing someone treated you poorly at the hospital you volunteered at, and for some reason you need to take your aggression out on other people. Maybe you should talk to a psychologist about it.

Oh and by the way, citing other rants (some are obviously your own) in other forums and blogs doesn't help your credibility.

I am an engineer who is married to a CLS. I am envious of her, due to the nature of her work. My profession involves making more money for my company, while she is doing anything she can to make a toddler's deathbed more comfortable. I personally think you are a terrible person, and I encourage anyone reading this forum to disregard your comments.
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Old 02-18-2011, 04:36 PM
6,473 posts, read 10,610,299 times
Reputation: 6373
Originally Posted by broadanon View Post
I am sure other local hospitals in your area have a few child life specialists also, and this is EXACTLY the problem. They have to keep atleast a few in hand to 'COMPETE' with the one you are taking your child too. If you don't know, one of the fundamental property of life is that Bulls#@t creates more Bulls#@t. Like I mentioned before there's no reason why volunteers who can prevent someone from committing suicide for example, OR EVEN YOU can't do the same things such as 'Distraction' for free that these so called 'professionals' do.

You said you could care less how much CLS get paid. However this is exactly the 'I don't care' attitude that causes problems since people don't accept social responsiblity due to lack of awareness of the world they are living in. Ignorance is NOT bliss! Will you care when the entire healthcare system crashes along with medicare, medicaid and your child has to deal with the consequeces of a shattered health care system in the future? Or when we invade other countries for oil to support our excessively wasteful lifestyle and rediculously useless careers?

Regarding your career of a Speech Language Pathology, I will honestly say I don't know and can't judge. I haven't seen one in action so I so refuse to and can't make any judgements.

I WILL tell you based on what I have seen from working the Child Life Specialists, Sales Managers, and others in different professions from that these are completely useless and an excessive marketing driven product of greedy capitalism gone bad (most people don't realize that there are good AND BAD things about capitalism. The good is that it allows for freedom and creativity. The bad is that it allows people to become too fat, consume, become lazy, and promote a culture of pretentiousness and greediness.)

More than likely if you are on this forum reading these posts, then you are already probably considering this type of profession as your future and considering to take the Child Life Council Certification Exam. Here's another link for you, Frequently Asked Questions

Under the question 'Why certify Dog Trainers,' it says "Establishing a credentialing program enhances the reputation of a profession." This is exactly the reason why this so called 'Council' of Child life people have created this rediculous certification exam. Because they want to glorify what they do more, and make some money off it while at the same time.

The Certification Exam for this profession is nothing but a means to try and make this rediculous profession more legit and respectable, even though it really adds no value and is something that any volunteer can and does do for free.
Just wanted to say I agree with ALL of your posts regarding made up titling.

Life Coach, _________ specialist that was just once a plain old plain old.

I remember when companies wanted you to be "certified" in microsoft's computer programs (through Microsoft) before getting a job with them and I thought that was bull**** even back then.
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:10 PM
1 posts, read 2,869 times
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Originally Posted by CTKel View Post
I know this thread is almost a year old, but just in case you're still keeping tabs on it... I'm a child life specialist and would be more than happy to answer any questions.

If you already have a degree in education, you may or may not need some extra classes. You need to have ten classes in specific areas (things like child development, psych, some sociology count... but others are important, too, like classes on death/dying, play, medical terminology, etc.) You can check the Child Life Council website (www.childlife.org) for more info on the classes. Once you have the proper classes, you can apply for an internship. Most programs prefer that you have volunteer experience in the hospital setting first or a practicum experience. The internship is 480 hours, and then you are able to sit for the child life certification exam.

I concentrated in child life in college, but some of my co-workers were pyschology and human development. You need a really strong background in development- you need to be able to quickly assess kids. An education degree probably gave you this background.

I love my job. I work in pediatric hematology/oncology (blood disorders and cancer.) It is extremely rewarding and challenging at the same time, and no day is ever like another. I spend my days teaching children about their diagnoses and treatments, explaining procedures. I do medical play with kids to help them explore in safe ways and become more comfortable with medical equipment. I go to their schools and teach their peers about why they are out of school/why they look different coming back. I distract kids during painful procedures and help them learn coping skills. I play- a lot! I do bereavement support, plan an annual memorial service, that kind of thing... but also plan an annual holiday party and annual summer party, plan special events and visitors, etc.

Pros- fun job (a lot of the time!) Hugs and smiles! Watching a kid finally "get" something, be it gain the ability to get through an IV start okay, or finally understand why or how things are happening. Seeing happy kids. Seeing not so happy kids become happy. So many feelings I can't put into words.

Cons- there are obvious ones (not all children get better) but one of the hardest things is not being able to help every child or make every intervention work. Sometimes, there's nothing I can do to make a procedure easier on a child. Sometimes a child is having such a bad day or is in so much pain that I'm not sure anything I'm doing is really helping.

The pay isn't great, and the field has a high burn-out rate- it's a hard job to leave at work. But for me, it's worth it.

So again, not sure if you're going to read this, but if you do, feel free to contact me with any questions.
To CTKel,
I have a question regarding becoming a child life specialist. I am currently finishing my undergrad degree in psychology and moving onto a masters in Special Education and I see the perfect opportunity to complete a few required courses I might need at an undergrad tuition rate. The courses listed was kind of broad. Is every course listed required? Some I have already taken, some I would still need to complete. I am currently attending one university but will probably switch after I graduate. Is special Ed a good field to go into for this field? I understand that a masters degree is not necessarily required but it is something I would like to have anyway. Your thoughts? Thanks a bunch.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:11 AM
Location: USA
4,980 posts, read 8,558,924 times
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So what is it, that they really do? I know a lot of places are cutting medical staff, and as a professional who did get cut, I wonder how facilities can justify paying someone who is holding hands.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:23 AM
Location: Tucson, AZ
1,697 posts, read 3,163,527 times
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Originally Posted by nebulous1 View Post
So what is it, that they really do? I know a lot of places are cutting medical staff, and as a professional who did get cut, I wonder how facilities can justify paying someone who is holding hands.
There you go- you just answered your own question
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:29 AM
143 posts, read 344,032 times
Reputation: 224
I worked with Child Life Specialists when I volunteered in a children's hospital years back. I thought they performed a pretty important service for children. I'm not sure any type of certification is needed per se other than experience with children but I thought they provided important service to the hospital.
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:46 PM
34 posts, read 354,038 times
Reputation: 93
Wow, just stumbled across this thread. It's been a while! I see some questions about getting into the child life field.

No, not all of the recommended courses are required. You do need to submit at least ten courses to course review within the Child Life Council. They will tell you what qualifies and not. Generally, they want to see child development/human development, some psych, medical terminology, death & dying, children in crisis, art/lit for children, anatomy, etc. Special Ed provides a great basis for going into child life. You may need to add a course or two, but you'll have most of what you need.

It's important to note that the child life profession is changing quite a bit. Starting next year (I think), every prospective specialist will need to take a certain number of courses taught by certified child life specialists. This will change the ability of people to go right into internship and certification exam without the background. I'm not sure exactly when this will begin or how many courses will be required at first.

Students are also now required to have volunteer experience before applying for internship. Internship sites may still determine the amount, but most are focusing on 100 hours of hospital volunteer experience. I highly recommend checking in with the Child Life Council through the website or joining the Council which gives you access to the e-mail groups.

Now, to answer the question about what I do (which seems like it's coming from someone who just wants to start another debate... I will no longer respond to uninformed attacks like earlier in this thread): the goal of child life is to make the entire medical experience less stressful on children and families. Studies have shown that child life services shorten hospital stays (getting kids out of bed faster and walking/deep breathing), lessen anxiety pre and post procedure, and more.

As for what exactly we do, here goes. I teach children about why they are in the hospital and what is happening. I translate the medical speak into developmentally appropriate explanations. I work in hematology/oncology, so the kids I work with are diagnosed with cancer or blood disorders. I explain procedures and what will happen, as well as make sure kids have a good understanding of whatever the diagnosis is. I provide distraction during the procedures. This could be using a toy or iPad, I Spy, etc. to get a child's attention on something else, or doing a guided imagery exercise.

I teach coping skills that can be used to help with pain relief, anxiety, and other stressful circumstances. I go to my patients' schools and teach their classmates about cancer, what's going on with the ill child, and how to keep the ill child safe upon return to school. I advocate for pain relief, school services, parental involvement, family centered care, etc.

I help children understand (unfortunately) death. I do legacy building and memory making. I run support groups (bereavement, patient support, sibling support.) I run special events and visitors (clown, bead program, local pro sports teams, parties, Santa, outings, etc.) I do community health events like teddy bear clinics, safety programs, and more. I hook up families with Make-a-Wish and other organizations.

I do a lot more, too. I am not justifying my job. This is just what I do. I'm sorry that it seems to bother people.
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