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