I’m thankful for…
- People and organizations that donate to children’s hospitals. These donations truly go a long way and make a world of difference for our patient’s year round. As crazy as it sounds, many child life programs do not have a budget and rely on solely on donations for crayons, toys, and stickers!
- Soap! Yes, soap. For without soap there’d be no bubbles! And we all know that Child Life & bubble blowing go hand in hand.
- Those techs, nurses, and doctors that request Child Life services BEFORE they begin their procedure.
- Steve Jobs – for making an incredible distraction tool that not only actively engages patients, but also blocks the view.
- Dansko Shoes – for helping my feet cope with standing, walking, running, and of course, squatting during long procedures.
- My child life assistant and volunteers that not only help me every day with upkeep care of my child life program, but also help me cope with losses on Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones (McDreamy, Glenn, & John Snow forever).
- The summer months when our census drastically slows down.
- These $4 for a dozen gold medals from oriental trading – this is often the most appreciated prize I can give a child for being brave.
- All of the other wonderful Child Life bloggers that not only inspire me to be the best CCLS I can be, but advocate for our beautiful profession & make a difference every day.
- And of course, all of my wonderful readers that continue to encourage me to keep blogging!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
& to all of my fellow CCLS’s, make sure & rest up this week – the hectic holiday season is HERE!
My favorite find of the month are these coloring books that feature kids with disabilities! Sue Nuenke and her son, Christopher Harmon, have worked together to create fun coloring books and stickers that will help kids “see characters that look like them too”. I am a huge fan of any and all resources that I can provide for children with disabilities – much more so those resources that help normalize their environment. These coloring pages are available on the website (link below) to print for free!
For more information on Popping Wheelies visit: http://themighty.com/2015/08/1this-mom-created-coloring-books-that-feature-kids-with-disabilities/
I often receive e-mails from Child Life students asking what I would recommend to make their application POP when up against others applying for a practicum/internship. This is a very valid question as you can imagine everyone your up against for the position also “loves kids” & is “very creative”. So, what are some things that you can add to your resume to stand out?
- Experience with Kids
We know you love kids (its a requirement for the job!), but show your program just how much. Hospitalized kids, kids in summer camps, babysitting, kids with special needs, tutoring, etc. By showing that you’ve worked with kids in a variety of settings you appear well rounded & it’s clear that you enjoy spending your time being around kids! Below are some of my favorite organizations that often are in need of volunteers:
- Be Involved with the Child Life Council
Becoming a member of the CLC will not only open a world of resources and information for you, but it will also show prospective hospitals that you’re serious about becoming a CCLS. Want to show them that you’re super serious about becoming a CCLS? Attend the Child Life Conference! Attending conference not only give you an opportunity to network, learn, and have fun in a new city, but it also looks very impressive on a resume. This shows interviewer that you’re passionate about Child Life, that you’re willing to learn about Child Life, and that you’ll be dedicated during your internship. Want to know more about what conference is like? Check out my post from the CLC conference 2014: http://adventuresinchildlife.com/2014/06/10/child-life-conference-recap/
- Start a Blog
Starting my blog was one of the best decisions I made in my journey to becoming a CCLS. Writing this blog gave me a reason to do research about the job, made me become aware of news and advancements happening in the field, network with other aspiring child life specialists, and now as a professional I use my blog as a portfolio of my work! Blogging about something shows that you’re truly interested in the topic and that you genuinely enjoy it. If you do decide to start a blog, let me know and I’ll give you a shout out! :)
- Recognize your Special Talents
There may be many special talents that you have that you don’t even consider special. Try and see things from a CCLS point of view and what they experience on a daily basis; do you have any skills that can relate?
- Great at public speaking? As a CCLS you’re often times asked to provide in-services for members of the multidisciplinary team. It’s GREAT if you don’t faint at just the thought of speaking in front of a crowd.
- Worked in retail during the dreadfully busy holiday season? Multitasking at a high-stress fast-paced job while having to maintain focus on customer service as well as the task at hand sounds a lot like Child Life to me!
- Speak another language? Having grown up speaking Spanish myself, I never thought this would be something I’d mention during an interview – it’s no big deal, especially here in Miami where everyone speaks Spanish. This is an invaluable skill when working in healthcare (or anywhere, really!) and you should definitely brag about it.
- Worked as a waitress/waiter or telemarketer during college? People skills are everything for Child Life. You need to know how to talk to children, yes, but you also need to know how to speak to their scared, angry, nervous, tearful parents.
- Take Pictures
It’s great to hear about how creative a candidate says she/he is, but it’s even better to see it! Take pictures (while abiding to HIPPA regulations) of the work you’ve done with children, medical play activities you’ve created, art work patient’s have made for you, etc. This will really make you stand out from other candidates.
During your experiences volunteering or during your practicum, keep a journal of special moments that you witnessed the CCLS have with a child or that you yourself had with a child! Before an interview I always like to go over my personal journal where I’ve jotted down special moments I’ve had with patients and their families. This is a great “refresher” for when interviewers ask those great “Tell me about a time when you…” questions.
- Trust me, if you don’t refresh on your experiences before an interview you’ll sit there trying to think of a special moment you had with a patient but all you’ll be able to think about is how much time you’ve been trying to think and how quiet everyone is & then you won’t even remember ever seeing a child before! Very awkward and a sure way to make you feel you “failed” the interview but it happens to the best of us!
- If keeping a journal isn’t your thing, then when preparing for an interview make sure and just take some time to recall on those experiences & jot a few down. This way they’re fresh in your memory & you can think without eyes staring at you.
Now this point I’m only adding because I am 4 courses away from getting my masters degree so research has become my middle name. I now enjoy reading research articles for fun! (who am I?) – All jokes aside, you really do learn a lot from reading research articles. Search articles about Child Life, pediatrics, distraction, siblings of hospitalized children, children’s perceptions of death, etc. Having this knowledge in your back pocket will really blow your interviewers away when you reply to a question with “Well, I actually read a research article about that which suggested…”
If you’re still in school, tailor your classes as much as possible to Child Life (for those of you like me, whose university does not have a Child Life major). Take classes like medical terminology, children with special needs, a survey of developmental disabilities, death and dying, psychology, ethics, hospital management, etc. Different universities offer a wide range of courses so when picking classes always keep an eye out for those course descriptions that relate to Child Life and/or the hospital setting in general. My favorite elective was “childhood around the world”!
- Be Creative
Being creative is something all child life specialists claim to be but no two are the same. Show your creativity when applying for your position whether it’s decorating your application folder with washi tape or including an extra letter of recommendation from a child you know. After sorting through mountains of manila envelope applications, finding creativity in one will definitely set you apart. DISCLAIMER: don’t get too carried away with creativity; you are still applying for a professional role so shoving confetti into your application might be too much. Ask a trusted friend or parent for advice if you’re not sure!
My favorite find of the month this month is an organization named“Hope Has Fun”. Founded by 10-year-old Isabella, Hope Has Fun brings the power of play to children in the hospital. Their current project is to collect items for Operation Smile’s Child Life program. This project will be open for anyone to participate in until May 2016 when they will give the donations to Operation Smile Child Life programs around the world. I am personally a huge supporter of Operation Smile’s Child Life program so I feel this is an incredible way to help out in the Child Life community. Way to go, Hope Has Fun!
For more information on Hope Has Fun visit: http://www.hopehasfun.org/
For more information on Operation Smile visit: http://www.operationsmile.org/
I’m all about waiting room craft kits! Especially seasonal ones! I mean, c’mon, look how cute these little “Fall Friends” are!! These craft kits are very easy to make and I am truly blessed to have such great volunteers that help me make dozens of them (thanks sofi & stephanie).
All you need is:
Then you just put 10 shapes and half of a construction paper into a baggie & voilà! Fun, seasonal, adorable, mess free waiting room crafts ready to go!
“Can I e-mail you interview questions for a school assignment?”
YES! I love being able to help students! Send me an e-mail to Dianemo.firstname.lastname@example.org along with the due date for the assignment and I will respond as soon as possible. You can also send an e-mail to my fellow child life bloggers and see if they’d be able to help with your assignment (http://adventuresinchildlife.com/blogs/).
Being a Child Life Specialist is great, but I feel that I cannot take full credit for the wonderful work that I do. There are many amazing organizations out there that work to provide Child Life teams around the nation with tools and materials that will help make the hospital experience less scary. Below are some of my personal favorites:
For every headband purchased, 1 is donated to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to St.Baldrick’s. I love headbands of hope and it’s thanks to them that on more than one occasion I’ve been able to bring smiles (and super cute headbands) to dozens of girls battling cancer.
Inspired by Jessie Rees, the organization NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) has made it it’s mission to send a joy jar to children with cancer nation wide. NEGU makes it possible to give a jar full of (age appropriate) FUN to our oncology patients whenever they come to the hospital.
Project Sunshine is a volunteer based organization that provides crafts and supplies for hospitalized children. There are a variety of things that Project Sunshine provides its hospitals with, my personal favorite for the ER are the craft kits!
I will be forever grateful for Kid Flicks – we all know how popular movie watching is in the hospital setting as well as how quickly DVD’s are lost, damaged, or stolen. I contacted them when I first began working in my department where there hadn’t been a child life specialist in over a year. Needless to say the DVD collection need some major TLC! After a couple of e-mails, I had a box with 100 DVD’s in my hands.
Digging Deep is an incredible resource for school-aged/teen patients facing health-care challenges. It is beautifully written and designed to be appealing for the age group. I am incredibly thankful to be able to provide such an amazing resource for my patients that need it most. (side note: they just released their Spanish version!)