Favorite find of the month

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By having this fabulous blog to keep up to date, I am constantly looking for fun & new Child Life related things to spread the word on. This month, I came across http://www.childlifetechnology.org/

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They are a group of tech-savy people who are here to “provide solutions to technology questions and challenges for caring child life professionals.” I’ve only been a CLS since January but 7 months in and I have already faced so many obstacles trying to implement technology into my every day work. Being in charge of Video games, DVD players, and (hopefully soon) iPads, I have become rather good friends with out IT, Bio Med, and Engineering team at my hospital. It’s 2014 and technology is everywhere and surprisingly, not as easy to implement/maintain as you may think. I didn’t really value technology in the hospital as much as I do now being that I’m the one in charge of all of the “fun” technology in my department. So, knowing that there are people like the ones at Child Life Technology that understand our role as Child Life Specialists and how frustrating technology can be, it’s heartwarming to find such great help. Thank YOU, Child Life Technology.

 

PS,

You have to read their “about us” – http://www.childlifetechnology.org/AboutUs.html

Choosing Your Child Life Internship Project

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Image      Usually towards the end of your Child Life internship the time will come for you to create a very creative and unique project that will truly show your passion for Child Life and creative abilities with almost no instructions given to you. No pressure, right? Most of us in Child Life are pretty creative to begin with so this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. However, it comes at time in your internship when you’re juggling assignments, being more/completely independent in your work with children, learning new things everyday, applying for jobs, thinking about the certification exam, and, oh yeah, your personal life too. It’s safe to say that towards the end of your internship you’re exhausted & under pressure preparing for the next step of your Child Life adventure, thus making it very difficult to get those creative juices flowing to come up with a project. Here are some of my experiences that helped me decide on what to do for my Child Life internship project:

      First and foremost, speak to your internship coordinator! See if there is anything that their Child Life department is lacking – resource wise. When it came time for me to think of an internship project I had  complete “writers block”. I sat with my supervisor and asked what other interns had done in the past to kind of get a feel for what was expected of me. Some examples she told me were: one intern created an app for the ipad with procedural prep books that she created herself, another intern made an introduction of services for child life video in english and spanish that could be played on the iPad, & another one made a little pocket guide for Child Life things in Spanish for the CCLS’ to carry with them incase they came across a family that only spoke Spanish. After hearing some examples I felt more lost than I was before! A whole app with preps for different procedures?! How could I compete with that?! Your internship coordinator won’t/shouldn’t be telling you “make us ________, we saw it on Pinterest & would really love it.” – as I said before, this is a very special project that can show your true love and passion for Child Life – that is why it’s (usually) such an open ended assignment.

      Then next thing you should do is take a look at your experiences throughout your internship, the population you’ve worked with, and the Child Life department. Is there anything that you can add/provide that would make things easier for staff, families, or patients? Is there a certain age group being left out of anything due to lack of resources? Through your rotations, did you ever think “Oh, I wish we had _____. It would really help me a lot to [explain] ____ to this patient.” Nothing coming to mind? Break it down some more – what were the tools/resources you used during your rotations? While asking myself these questions, I remembered that during my rotation in the ER they had coloring books to hand out to school-aged children, and for the teens they had… oh! wait! they don’t have anything to help the teens beat the boredom! AH HA!

    Once your inspiration hits, ask yourself another set of questions: is this going to be something that I will have time to complete? You must be realistic in your commitment to complete your project. Also, how and why is this going to benefit the hospital/families/patients? It’s easy to steer off of the Child Life road when trying to decide on something to do with little instructions. Make sure that you make an outline of how your project will help support/relates to Child Life.

    During this stage is when I really developed my project: rather than slapping together some teen-friendly coloring sheets & crossword puzzles for the ER, I decided that I would make an introduction packet for teens to each unit. My packets included: a small list of words & their (teen friendly) definitions that they may hear on their unit, a page listing different things the hospital offers for their stay (activities, teen lounge, etc), a page about child life specialists – who we are, what we do, and how they can reach us, some therapeutic Mandala art, a blank page for them to jot down questions, and, depending on which unit it was for information/entertainment that applies. In total, I had 9 intro books customized for teens on each unit of the hospital that were each about 10 pages long. I kept in mind all of the developmental information I know about teenagers and what the hospital had to offer to support their development. In the end, my project was a great success!

  • My project supported child development in the hospital setting
  • My project assisted the Child Life team in providing information/services to their teen population
  • My project was age-appropriate for teenagers
  • My project helped promote coping and normalization for teen patients
  • My project  answered age-appropriate questions teens may have

 

IV / sutures prep doll

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Hi everyone, meet Harper! She is my little mermaid friend that helps me teach my younger patients about two very common ER procedures: IV’s and sutures. With her by my side, I am able to explain to little ones how this is going to help them & yes, that even mermaids get this done sometimes too. At first Harper only had an IV and I would bring her around especially after very tearful IV starts. She’s served as a window for me to be able to talk about their/her IV without tears flowing again.
One day, I was helping a little 4-year-old that was getting sutures placed on her foot. She did fantastic throughout my prep before & during the procedure itself. However, when she saw the finished product she began to cry & exclaimed “the doctor put thorns in my foot!” – I knew then I needed something, or someone, to help me show kids what it will look like after the procedure. I didn’t have another stuffed friend so Harper stepped up to the task. Luckily she has long hair so I just cover up whichever arm I don’t need to show.

* Because of infection control issues, Harper is only for show. She does not stay with the patients nor do they get to play with her. Sorry kids, Harper is too sensitive for human germs!*

Tips for child life students

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We’re living in a time when we’re pulling out our phones and taking pictures of everything. Take advantage of our easy access to photography and take pictures of your work! Therapeutic activities you come up with, medical art, crafts, child life events, cards/pictures given to you by patients, etc. You’ll love this decision when it comes time to applying to practicums/internships/jobs and you have a wide range of photos to choose from to include in your portfolio. In a field as competitive as ours, it’s important to really show what you have to offer & what better way than with an album of your best work!

* CAREFUL! Keep in mind there are laws & regulations when it comes to photographing patients in the hospital (HIPPA) – I am encouraging students to take pictures of their work , not of their patients. Not only is it against the law but a future employer will notice if you’ve violated these laws. *

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Sticker solutions

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In my department, I have a cart that I keep stocked for things for the staff to hand out when I’m not there (crafts, coloring books, rewards, etc.). Among the goodies in the child life cart is a wide variety of stickers. I haven’t had many issues with staff handing out too many stickers per patient, but there was one reoccurring problem. My girl stickers (princesses, doc mcstuffins, strawberry shortcake, Barbie – not so much my tween “people” stickers) would FLY off the cart. One time a whole roll (containing about 90 stickers) was given away during my 8 hour shift! I quickly brain stormed a way I could provide staff with the resource and have it under control.

This was my solution: I detached all of the stickers from the roll so that they’re individual, then I put out 10 at a time on top of the cart in a little slot where I’d usually put the stickers that were ripped off the roll but not given away. I put out 10 when I get to work and depending on how many have been given away (or if there were any left over) I put out another 10 before I leave. This was a very experimental plan – I didn’t know if staff would end up giving away all 10 at once, if staff would even find them in the top corner, and if I’d really want to go through the hassle of separating the stickers and being so “on top” of putting them out every shift.

Conclusion: it worked out great!!! It was kind of a hassle to separate the stickers into individuals to gather them into groups of 10 (the company I order stickers from offers them in rolls or in packs so I’m definitely changing my preference for next time!) After they were all separated, I put them in a ziplock bag in my file cabinet which I keep locked (which is also conveniently placed next to my child life cart ;) ). I open & close this cabinet every shift when I come in & before I leave to gather my supplies (see previous entry: what’s in my pockets?) so I’m not going out of my way at all to bring out a pack of stickers. At first staff kept exclaiming “we’re out of princess stickers!” “You need to get more girl stickers!” But by being able to direct them to the top corner nook of the cart when they said this, word spread and now everyone knows where to find the stickers. And, most importantly, the stickers are lasting longer! Staff seems content with the new system for the girl stickers as I have not received any complaints on shortages since my new system. That’s a win in my book!!

{I also had this issue with Spider-man stickers – a very popular choice this season apparently – I began to do the same method & had the same results.}