& my adventure continues…

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      Today is the first day of school for many down here in Miami, so I figured today is a good day to announce to my followers that I’ve been accepted into grad school at Nova Southeastern University! The degree will be in Developmental Disabilities with a concentration in Child Life. This will be the first time that I’m working full time and going to school but luckily, the masters program is 100% online! I am so lucky to have been accepted into such an amazing program – I can’t wait to start!

If you’re interested in more information about the Developmental Disabilities masters program at Nova, click here: http://www.nova.edu/humanservices/devdisabilities/index.html 

Budget friendly beading

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IMG_1094.JPG For a while my beaded bracelet kits have been a huge hit in the ER, however at $9 for a dozen, it can get pretty pricey. Luckily, I decided to make my own beading kits! All I needed was a roll of string, beads, and plastic baggies (which I had from the hospital). They’re as popular as the previous beading kits and I’m saving a ton of money with now only purchasing beads and string rather than the kit itself. This is definitely a “win” in my book!

How I studied for the certification exam

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When I finally signed up to take my certification exam, I quickly became overwhelmed with what/how I had to study. The Child Life Council has a list of suggested materials for you to review before the test – ( http://childlife.org/files/CandidateManual.pdf — page 15) – but it can definitely be overwhelming to be given a list of text books as suggested study material . Here is what/how I studied for the certification exam (and yes, I passed on my first try!)

I began studying exactly one month before the date of my exam. I’ve never studied for one thing for so long with such a broad study guide so I knew I was in for an adventure.

Speaking of adventures, here’s a little time line of my child life adventure – so you know where my studying starting point is: I graduated from college in spring 2012, took my intro to child life class in fall 2012, did my practicum in spring 2013, finished my internship in fall 2013, began working in January 2014, and was now taking the certification exam in March 2014. I’ve been consistently engaged with Child Life for 2 years – that being said, my studying was based on all that I’ve experienced and learned during my consistent Child Life adventure so I felt confident skipping over some material & focusing more on others.

So, first thing’s first: textbooks.

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I’m a very thorough note taker so having studied two of these books for my intro to child life course and the other two during my internship, I already had a ton of material to go over. I went through all of my notes of each chapter of each book and rewrote things I felt would come up on the test.

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The readings for ethics and the one for volunteers I had (luckily) made photo copies of from a friend and I’m so happy that I did! There were absolutely questions relating to these two topics on the exam. If you don’t have a copy of these materials already, get them! It may seem like a subject that’s common sense but reading through these two materials helped me a lot with various questions on the test.

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Another tool that helped me a lot were these two little gems from the Child Life Council. The study guide has great test taking tips and practice exams with answers! And, “the official documents of the Child Life Council” is a good resource to have whether you’re taking the test or not because it is filled with important information about our profession.

As for things I did not do:
– use the “child life certification exam” flash cards. I am HUGE on using flash cards to study but there was just so much information on each of the cards and a lot of lists “8 reasons ___” “5 ways that children ___” “10 most common ___”. I think I got through about 10 before I pushed them aside. They just didn’t “go” with my studying style.
– review a child development text book or a nursing text book. I felt confident enough with these two subjects based on all of my experiences leading up to this exam to be able to skip over them.
– try to rush or obsess over a question. While taking the test, if a question was unclear or if I was having trouble picking an answer, I left it blank and went back to it at the end of the test (you have FOUR hours!) This was a great tip because with the practice exams I noticed I would get ahead of myself and try and answer the questions as quickly as possible making me misread what the actual question was asking. Pay attention to what the question is asking and don’t be fooled by additional information given to try and trick you! and always always always go back and reread your answers after you’ve completed your exam. always.
– study the day before the exam. By this point I had studied for a MONTH. If I didn’t know something by this point I wasn’t going to learn it the day before the exam. My brain needed a much needed relaxing day off before the big show.
– freak out the day of. Sure, it was nerve wrecking, but as soon as I say down at the computer I said to myself “I’ve been studying every day for a month and I’ve been living this for two years. It’s time to answer some questions about this topic that I love so much.”

…And just like that, a (scary) two months later, I found out I had passed! (March 2014 exams took way longer to reveal test scores for some reason – lucky me. I’ve been told that you normally find out whether you’ve passed or failed immediately after you submit your test.)

Best of luck to all of you child life-ers out there studying!!

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!*