Favorite find of the month

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As any child life specialist knows, finding a doll with plastic hair is like finding a hidden gem! Due to infection control precautions, cloth dolls or dolls with hair (barbie) should not be used in between patients because they are not able to be properly cleaned/sanitized. I was so excited when I found this Aladdin for 2 reasons:

1. his plastic hair making him easy to clean and maintain

2. Aladdin is a boy making him more relatable and engaging for my boy patient’s

I placed a PICC line on him for now but who knows, maybe in the future, he’ll need an IV or help me demonstrate an OR prep or a breathing treatment. I am so excited to have him by my side!

You can find your own Aladdin doll on  Amazon !

Cystic fibrosis teaching

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Recently I had a school-aged boy diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) admitted to my unit for a “tune up”. He told me he was in the hospital because he had CF and when I asked him what CF was he said: “I don’t know what it is but I know that I have it…”. I asked him if he wanted to learn a little about what CF was and he agreed! Right away I went to grab a Huxi book, some crayons, and coincidentally I found a panda stuffed animal in our prize closet. We read through the book and talked a lot about mucus and the parts that it effects in a person’s (or panda’s) body with CF.

After we talked about mucus, then things got really fun… we made slime (aka, mucus)! There’s nothing school-aged boys love more than making gross, icky, gooey, slimy mucus. I wanted to make slime with him so that he could have a concrete example of how sticky and gooey mucus can be. While we were squishing the slime around in our hands he began to ask questions like “how do we get rid of mucus?”. I answered his question by asking him about things he does at home – breathing treatments, enzymes, wearing his vest, etc. We also talked about other ways he can help his body get rid of mucus like eating healthy and being active.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to teach my little patient about CF & that we both had so much fun!

 

Favorite Find of the Month

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I first learned about the child life profession when one of my child development professors my junior year of college very briefly mentioned it during one of his lectures. I jotted down “child life specialist” on the corner of my notebook and googled it when I got home. As soon as I looked it up, I knew this was it! I read every single word written on the entire child life council website but I still wanted more! I wanted to know what a typical day looked like for a CLS, I wanted to see pictures of their workspace, I wanted as much information as I could get to feel confident in my decision to pursue this career. I didn’t find what I was looking for that day so I started adventures in child life in hopes of providing others with what I was looking for at the start of my adventure. 

It’s no secret that becoming a certified child life specialist is a lot of work! And how can you be sure that you’re ready to do all that it takes to become a child life specialist when you’ve never even seen what the job entails first hand? I get a lot of e-mails from people interested in the field asking me how they can be sure child life is for them before they dive in. I often asked myself this question too during the early stages of my adventure. I realized that child life was for me by truly understanding what the job entailed and see the magic first hand during my time volunteering, my practicum, my internship, and even during as a professional. This brings me to my favorite find of the month:

 

John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida will be hosting a seminar for those interested in learning more about the child life profession. This seminar will include a panel discussion with child life staff, information about education options & certification requirements, a hospital tour, and exposure to therapeutic activities. There are two seminars left this year – one will take place on July 27th and the other on November 16th. Space is limited to 25 participants per seminar so make sure and register online ASAP!

To see the flyer for the event, click here https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/getmedia/792ad66a-178e-43b5-9116-8ccb6f983e9c/DayInTheLife

Let’s talk about camp!

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Back in March, I mentioned I was working at one of my hospital’s week long camps for patients with special healthcare needs. Now that I have some more free time having finished with school, I’m ready to let you all in on the magic I witnessed during my week at camp.

Our camp is a (free) week-long spring break camp for children that need a little extra help breathing from the use of a ventilator and their families. This includes children with tracheostomies – needing a ventilator, C-PAP, Bi-PAP, or oxygen to help them breathe. The campers come from all over the world to spend their spring break doing fun activities such as going to the beach, going to the pool, going on a yacht around  Biscayne bay, and having a dance party at the hard rock cafe!

This may sound nice to anyone, but this camp has a profound positive impact on the lives of its campers. Due to their medical condition(s), many of these campers are not able to do the activities they do at camp when they’re home. Our camp is fully staffed with volunteer nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, high school volunteers, nursing school volunteers, and a child life specialist (guess who!). It is thanks to so many medical professionals volunteering that these campers have the opportunity to bathe in the ocean or in a pool. For many of the campers, our camp is the only time of the year when they are submerged under water.

Our camp also gives the campers, their siblings, and their parents an opportunity to realize that other children go through similar medical experiences – just like them! With this tone of equality and normalization set within the first day of camp, it allows the campers and their families to relax, let their guard down, and just have fun!

Needless to say, I was blown away by the immensely positive impact this camp has on the lives of its campers, their families, and the dozens of volunteers that spend their spring break vacation dedicated to this organization.

To all child life students: this is a perfect example of how to stand out in the child life world. Not only would it look impressive on a resume, it will also help you with your personal professional development and medical knowledge. I’m not going to lie, I know that for my hospital’s camp there is a big commitment for those volunteering (in the end totaling 90+ hours). But, in my opinion, it’s worth it! There are camps like the one my hospital hosts all over the country and for various medical specialty populations. Had I known about this camp earlier on in my adventure in child life, I would have totally volunteered!

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You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain

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It’s been almost 5 months that I’ve been working at my new job as an inpatient child life specialist. Having been an outpatient child life specialist for 2 years, I am loving the change. Some of the things I love the most about my new role is having ample time to build rapport with my patients, having time to provide more in depth diagnosis teachings, and my new favorite thing: engaging my patients in therapeutic activities! Therapeutic activities is something I’ve always tried to incorporate into my child life practice however due to the nature of the fast paced emergency room, I rarely got the chance to. Here is one activity I facilitated during my first couple of weeks in my new role.


At first, I was a bit nervous because I was not sure that I’d be able to know which one of my patients would really benefit from a therapeutic activity. However upon meeting one of my teenage patients who’s frequently hospitalized for extended periods of time due to her condition, it was clear to see this was the perfect opportunity. I presented the activity to my patient with the theme of “you can’t have rainbows without a little rain”. In the clouds, she wrote things that make her feel sad about having to be hospitalized and in the rainbow she wrote benefits of being treated at the hospital. This way she has a nice reminder of the “pro’s” of being in the hospital when she needs a pick-me-up.

She and I both had so much fun putting together her poster board and I was able to learn so much about her.  As for the materials I used, I put together supplies last minute after coming up with the theme. In fact, all I had with me was a poster board and cloud cut outs! I had the patient choose between markers, crayons, paint, glitter, magazine cut outs, etc. and just followed her lead with how she wanted to create her art. Not too shabby for our first time, eh?!

I did it! 

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After two long years of what felt like infinite research articles, mastering the art of APA format, and lots of hard work, today I walked across the stage and graduated! I now officially have my masters degree from Nova Southeastern University! Ahh!! 😍

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Today was also very special because I was able to meet my classmates in person! Our program was completely online so many of us had never met face to face before. We did it, girls!

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Favorite Find of the Month

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This month I stumbled across this hilarious illustration of the digestive system by “the awkward yeti”…

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After some further investigation, I came to find the artist’s website where I then found my favorite find of the month for June!

The awkward yeti has created a Kickstarter page to support his “organs attack” card game. You can watch the video of how the game is played here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theawkwardyeti/organattack-a-card-game-by-the-awkward-yeti?ref=card

I am all for fun and creative ways to teach kids & teens about the “boring medical stuff” (their words, not mine) that happens in the hospital & the awkward yet is doing just that with his illustrations. Also, the “organs attack” card game looks like a super fun game to play with fellow medical staff. Way to go, the awkward yeti! 😍 !