Child Life Month on March, 2018: Child life specialist?
March, 2018 is Child Life Month 2018. March Guest Speaker #1 ... March is Child Life Month and
A child life specialist makes medical care easier on children and families. A CLS teaches children about why they are in the hospital, explains medical procedures to them, provides distraction during procedures, offers developmentally appropriate therapeutic play and other activities, runs special events, provides bereavement support, advocates for children, coordinates between school and hospital, helps children adjust to new diagnoses, teaches coping skills, runs support groups, and more.
I don't know if there are any schools in Calgary that offer a child life program. You may want to check out the Child Life Council's website at . They maintain a listing of academic programs.
You need a minimum of a Bachelor's degree. Some of us have our degrees in child life. Others get degrees in related fields, like child and family studies or psychology. You need a really strong background in child development. Also, starting soon, to be eligible to take the certification exam, you'll need to take at least one class taught by a certified child life specialist. You also need to take a certain number of classes that fit into the descriptions offered by the Child Life Countil (things like death & dying, abnormal child psychology, art for children all count.)
It takes a minimum of 4 years, as you need to complete your undergrad. Some child life programs offer internship during that time. If your program does not, it will take longer, as you'll have to do your internship after graduating. The internship is about 14-16 weeks of full time work (minimum of 480 hours of internship, though most sites require more than that.) Then, once you've graduated and completed your internship, you'll want to take the certification exam. Certification is not required to be hired as a CLS, but most hospitals do require you to become certified within a year of takin the job. The certification exam is offered twice a year. For me... I did my internships as an undergrad (I was in a child life program and had to do two) and took my certification exam about 3 weeks after graduating. I didn't apply for jobs until I knew that I had passed (I got the results 3 months later, but now if you take the computerized version, you get them immediately.) I got a job offer about two months after that.
Do you mean applying in a hospital for a child life job? Well, once you have the background necessary, you can look for child life jobs and just apply. If you don't have the degree and the internship, you cannot apply.
One thing to know is that volunteering in a hospital is EXTREMELY important before internship. Most internship sites require 75-100 hours of volunteer work with children in a medical setting just to apply for internship. We're seeing a lot of applicants without the volunteer hours, and we won't even interview them.
Child life is a very competitive field right now (we just had 25 applicants for ONE internship slot.) If you're interested in it, start volunteering ASAP to make sure you actually want to be doing this, and to start getting those hours in. Then make sure you're heading in the right direction with college and be aware of the types of classes you'll need.
What are the Pros and Cons in becoming a Child Life Specialist?
I am a child life specialist. I love my job, so I'm a bit biased and can think of more pros than cons. But I'll try.
-The pay. Similar to teaching or slightly less depending on where you are.
-The hours can be rough, depending on the job. While I work a typical 9-5 schedule 5 days a week and only have to cover 1 holiday a year and 1 weekend a month, other positions have more unfortunate schedules, like working every other holiday, working weekends, etc.
-The ability to actually get a job. There are more child life specialists out there than child life jobs. Often times, people must be willing to move to get a child life job.
-The burn out rate is VERY high. It's an emotionally draining job and you really have to make an effort to take care of yourself so that you don't quickly burn out.
-It can be a FUN job! =)
-I get to play!
-I can see that what I do makes a difference in the lives of many children and families.
-It doesn't get boring- no day is exactly like another. A typical day for me could include doing medical play or medical art in the playroom, distracting 15 kids during procedures, explaining to a new patient what his diagnosis is, making a memory box with siblings of a child who is at end of life, going to a school visit to teach a patient's classmates about cancer, running a community health event, attending a fundraiser, watching Toy Story three times in a row with a child who isn't well enough to do anything else, running a sibling support group, attending a meeting with parents and hospital staff about how to make it a better place, accepting donations, taking the local NFL team around to meet the patients, doing a pre-op tour... or any combination of the above. It's never the same, and there's always something going on.
-The job does involve a lot of teaching- diagnosis teaching, medication teaching, coping skills teaching, etc. But I'm able to adapt my teaching to each individual child and the way he or she learns instead of teaching to a group. While one child might learn better from a book about leukemia and me talking, another might not be able to grasp what leukemia is without an actual activity, like making blood soup and learning about the blood cells that way.
I'm having a hard time coming up with a list of pros, because it's not really specific things that keep me in this job. I really enjoy my job. I love that each day presents challenges and something different. I love that every child is different and I have to find a way to reach each child differently. I love that the kids are so accepting of each other (I work in hematology/oncology, so the patients become very close.) I love that kids are still kids, no matter what's going on- that even if they're feeling really awful, if really terrible stuff is happening, they're still kids. Yeah, they may have chemo running into them and be facing a rough prognosis, but what matters is still if we have enough purple sparkle paint or if they get the good IV pole with the good wheels so it's easier to ride on it.
There are horrible days in child life. When I have a bad day at work, I don't mean people were grumpy and things didn't get done. I mean a child died. And that's horrendous. There's no way to find anything okay in that, and it NEVER gets easier. And one of the rough things about that is that other people, outside the children's hospital world, really can't stand to hear about it, so it's difficult to talk about your job without making people sad. But as hard as all that is, for every child I've known who has died, I have been so honored to have known that child. And for every child who has died, there have been 50 more who have survived. And that doesn't make any of it okay, but it makes it okay for me to be doing this job. I'm not able to explain this well, and it may not be something anyone can truly understand until they're in the field.
Okay, I've gone on long enough... I hope this gives you some insight!
Child life insurance?
your Grandson has passed away, you didn't get to know him.. and your worried about the money instead of mourning the loss of a child..
that's pretty low in my book!