CLC2017

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It’s almost time again for the national Child Life Conference and this year it’s in Las Vegas, Nevada! To see the (super exciting) program for conference click here. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to be attending this year’s conference, but if I don’t, the Association of Child Life Professionals has a wonderful backup plan for those that can’t make it all the way to Vegas this May. After you register for the conference, for $50 more you can purchase the “All Access Pass”. With this pass, you are able to watch all of the sessions that were at the conference and receive professional development units (PDU’s) for them! I purchased the “All Access Pass” for last year’s conference (which I was able to attend in person) and I HIGHLY recommend it. You have 1 year before the sessions expire and you can watch them all on your own time at your own speed. Now if we can just get them to mail us our complimentary tote bags and SWAG from all of the exhibitors we’ll be all set!

Whether you’re planning on attending or not, here are some conference tips:

  • Students: If you’re financially able to go to conference, GO!!!! I cannot stress this enough. I truly wish someone had told me when I was a student to attend one of these conferences. They’re incredible and you’ll leave ready to take on the child life world! Plus, not only is it a great place to network, and learn, it’s also something you can add to your resume that will prove to potential practicum/internship coordinators that you are truly interested in the field of child life.
  • Looking for a new job? Go to the conference! As I mentioned above this is a great place to network and there are even boards where you can post up your resume for potential interviews!
  • For those who cannot attend this year, try and do the all access pass! This is the option I’m leaning towards and yes, it’s not as fun as actually going to the conference, but the sessions this year really are phenomenal. Look at the program and highlight the sessions you’d be interested in – if you highlighted your entire program in yellow like I did, get the all access pass!
  • For those of you that are going to the conference, HAVE FUN! I was in Las Vegas last year for vacation – in fact, that is where the photo above came from! I highly recommend the Beatles love cirque du Soleil show – I laughed, cried, and fell in love again with the Beatles – 100% worth it. I also highly recommend checking out red rock canyon, which is about an hour outside of Vegas. They have tours and breathtaking views – do your research and get your desert fix.
  • Hurry! Prices for the conference will rise on April 1st, 2017! Register ASAP! 

 

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Favorite Find

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I am so excited to have signed up for a 3-day kids yoga teacher training which is coming to Miami next month. Let me start off by saying I’m not a yoga teacher nor would I consider myself a yogi. My experience with yoga is nothing more than the occasional free class at the park or gym every now and then. Maybe a back bend or two at home when I’m in need of a good stretch, but nothing more.

About a week ago I stumbled upon Rainbow Kids Yoga – a company that focuses on giving its students the tools they need to teach yoga to children and families around the world. By glancing at their class schedule, it’s easy to see Rainbow Kids is everywhere – around the US, Europe, South America – everywhere!

How can this class help me as a child life specialist? These are just a few items on the agenda that I know I can use in my day-to-day work as a CCLS: Making yoga work for different age groups, breath and yogic breath for kids, yoga for children with additional needs, relaxation and guided imagery for children, meditation for different age groups

Aside from enhancing my clinical skills, I will also be able to teach children yoga on my free time if I desire as I will have “Registered Children Yoga Teacher (RCYT) status”.

*Cough* *Cough* To all those child life students looking for credentials to spice up their resume’s and stand out in a crowd of applications – look into this! 

Stay tuned for a part 2 of this post after I complete the training!

For an overview of the training click here: http://www.rainbowyogatraining.com/3-day-kids-yoga

You can see the class schedule & register for the upcoming class in Miami here: https://events.bizzabo.com/201924/agenda

 

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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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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34th annual child life conference 

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As many of you probably already know, this year’s national child life conference was in Orlando, Florida. Only 4 hours away from where I live, I was very exited that conference was in my home state this year. Unfortunately due to a prior engagement I was only able to attend the conference Thursday and Friday, but thankfully I got a lot done in those two days and I have my All Access Pass purchased.


There were many exciting things going on this year at conference. One of the most things exciting being the reveal of the Child Life Council’s new logo and name! We are officially on the way to becoming “The Association of Child Life Professionals”!


Another fun surprise at conference this year is that I was able to meet some of my blogger friends like Child Life Mommy !!


Overall I had a fantastic time, learned a lot, and met some very inspiring child life-ers in the field.

I’m still not sure if I will be attending next year’s conference, but Vegas is always a fun idea!

Grad School Update

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I am so excited to announce that I will be graduating this summer with my masters degree in developmental disabilities with a concentration in child life from Nova Southeastern University! During my time in grad school, I received many e-mails from prospective students asking about graduate degree in child life. Here are some of the FAQ’s I received.

  • Which program is better? Nova’s or Bank Streets? Deciding which university to attend for grad school depends on you and what you are wanting to gain with your degree – there is no right or wrong answer. From my understanding, the program at Bank Street is solely focused on child life while the program at Nova is focused on developmental disabilities with a concentration in child life. Again, this all depends on what you’re wanting to achieve with your degree.
  • How were you able to complete the internship requirement for Nova if you’re already working as a CCLS? Because I am already a certified child life specialist, I was not required to complete an internship.
  • I’m horrible with online classes, how do you manage? I’ve never been a fan of online classes either, but keep in mind that graduate school is very different from undergrad! Grad school is all about reading independently, researching independently, writing papers, and an occasional lecture here and there. While I would have never picked up an online course during undergrad, I am so happy my entire graduate school curriculum was able to be done online. I never had an issue with miscommunication with of my professors, I was able to stick to my normal work schedule and attend class/do homework on my free time, and there was no added stress of driving to school and finding parking. Whenever I needed assistance with anything academic, I received prompt answers via e-mail or telephone. It’s 2016, take advantage of the technology available for us!
  • How was the application process? I started at Nova during the fall of 2014. In order to apply for the program, I had to write a personal statement about why I’m interested in the program, provide 2 letters of recommendation, provide my official transcripts from undergrad, and have a phone interview.
  • What has been the most difficult part about grad school? Grad school is something you need to really want to accomplish for yourself. There is a lot of reading, a lot of papers, and not as many quizzes and exams. By now I let out a sigh of relief when my paper only needs to be 10 pages long! Prioritization and work-life balance are key for staying on track with grad school. Many students completing this program are also working full-time jobs/beginning their careers so you can’t exactly call out from work to pull an all-nighter before a deadline (well, maybe… just kidding!). I can honestly say what I found most challenging about grad school is learning how to perfectly write in APA format! No matter how much I double checked my work, I’d always get a few points off here or there because I wrote out someone’s first name rather than just writing their first initial. However, like all things you learn and become accustomed to new ways of doing things. If you’re having trouble with APA, here are a few of my favorite websites:

Worth it: 003

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I found this hidden in my drafts & thought it would be great to post for today’s throwback Thursday! This was written about a year ago when I was still working in the pediatric emergency room. I love this post because stories like these happen all of the time thanks to child life specialists!

(The patient’s name has been changed for privacy.)

When I walked into 6-year-old Bettys room to do an IV teaching, she was nowhere in sight. I asked mom if she was in the bathroom when Betty started to scream from under the sink.  (Side note: Can you imagine being so scared that you hide under a sink?! )”No!” “I don’t want the needle!” “You’re not going to pinch me!” I then crouched down and sat in front of Betty to introduce myself; “Hi, Betty – my name is Diane and I’m a Child Life Specialist. I don’t have any needles with me, but I did bring my bubbles. Do you like blowing bubbles?” Betty nodded. We started to blow bubbles and Betty hesitantly popped them from under the sink. After a little, I said “why don’t you come out from under the sink so that you can pop them better… I’ll make a big one for you!” “Okay!” Betty said & came right out from under the sink.

As we continued to pop bubbles, I started to ask Betty about her  hospital experience. It was her first time, she felt very sick, and she was very worried they might give her a shot.  I validated her feelings and then began to talk to Betty about the different ways we were going to help her feel better while she was in the hospital. I told her about the urine test she did, the flu test she did, the strep test she did, and about her upcoming IV. Betty was now aware that the IV meant that there was going to be a “pinch” involved and that the most important rule for getting her IV was that she could not move her arm because her veins (aka, blue tunnels) are very slippery. Betty also made the decision to play on the iPad while they started her IV so that she didn’t have to watch, and she wanted her nurse to count to 3 before the pinch.

Our plan was in place. I told Betty I would go let her nurse know that she was ready and she nodded & hopped up on the bed. Betty did GREAT with her IV, you would have never thought she was hiding under the sink screaming just 10 minutes before. I was so proud of her and how brave she was with getting her IV!

 

& my adventure continues…

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LOT has happened these last two months in my adventure in child life. I am so happy and excited to let you all know that I have started a new job as a child life specialist at a new hospital! Here’s a list of the crazy changes this new job brings:

  • Children’s hospital within an adult hospital –> Stand alone children’s hospital
  • Independent child life program –> Well established child life team of 12+ specialists
  • Out patient setting (Emergency Room) –> In patient setting (Respiratory Unit)
  • Working 3pm-11pm –> Working 9am-5pm (This is huge! As a morning person, this is something I’ve missed – big time!)
  • Very limited resources to provide for patients/families –> A WORLD of resources to provide for patients/families
  • Short length of stay for the patients –> Long length of stay for the patients
  • Very fast paced interventions –> Slower paced interventions

I am so excited about all of the changes and what this means for my professional growth. I am eager to learn about the new population of kids I will be working with and to be a part of such a big and supportive Child Life team. Having done my practicum and internship at stand-alone children’s hospitals, being a part of a big Child Life team is something I’ve always missed.  Support from other CCLS’s is an invaluable aspect of succeeding in the Child Life world in my opinion, and I am so happy to have that again.

However, I want to take the time to state how incredibly blessed I feel to have been able to spend my first two years as a CCLS working in an emergency department. I wouldn’t trade the time I spent there for anything in the world and I feel that it served as an incredible base for my career. Here’s what I learned:

  • Confidence; In the ER you’re not always called upon to provide services for patients. Things happen very quickly, there is a lot of stress in the air, everyone seems to always be rushing. Being in the ER taught me how to throw myself into situations that I wasn’t necessarily invited into.
  • Prioritization; Being the only CCLS on staff in the ER, it was up to me to cover the 24 beds and be aware of where my services were most needed. Being in the ER taught me how to figure out how to prioritize my census list.
  • Thicker Skin; The nature of the emergency room is usually very fast-paced and stressful with a wide variety of medical staff. Being in the ER taught me how to work with people in high stress environments and how to work with difficult personalities (to all of the Grey’s Anatomy fans, think…working in a place with many Christina Yangs).
  • Empathy; The ER is also filled with highly anxious patients and parents waiting for answers about recent changes in their child’s health. Working in the ER has taught me how to listen and really understand and address the fears and concerns of the patients and families we see.
  • Teamwork; There is something unique about working so closely with your co-workers in an environment like the ER. I quickly became very close to many of my co-workers which not only made work more fun, but made us “the dream team” when providing support for our patients and their families. I consider many of my co-workers some of the best friends I’ve ever had! Working in the ER taught me how crucial it is to be a team player.
  • Knowledge; The ER is the front line. We get everything, the kids with asthma, the kids with lacerations, the kids with appendicitis, kids with the flu, new chronic illness diagnosis, kids with broken bones, the list goes on and on. Working in the ER has given me knowledge of a wide range of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments, which is sure to help me along my adventure in child life.

Again, I’ll always cherish the two years I worked in that ER; the families I met, the laughs, the tears, my beautiful work family I became so close to, and most importantly, all of those times I saw the true magic of what Child Life is all about.

Child life month! 

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As a 1 person program working solely in the ER, here’s how I’m celebrating!

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  • Implementation of a Child Life newsletter for the nurses lounge.
  • A Child Life trivia quiz! Everyone fills out a sheet & returns it to me. I will pick random sheets to “grade” and the first person I pick that gets all the answers correct, wins!
  • A baby photo contest – staff bring in a baby photo and it goes up on our board. First person to guess everyone correctly wins.
  • Child life table teepees for the waiting room.
  • Child life coloring sheets for the waiting room.
  • A day of having food catered for the department (THANK YOU upper management!)
  • A Child life “emergency kit” for the doctors lounge.
  • Child life month bulletin board.
  • Guest spot on our PEDS ED monthly newsletter!
  • Bubble rounds! Child life assistant and I will randomly go room to room and blow bubbles for the patients to celebrate Child Life month – creatively thought up by one of my Child Life Assistants – (funny with the teen patients & a great way to raise awareness!)

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Camp Erin

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Over the weekend I volunteered at Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for children and teens that have experienced the loss of a loved one. Because I am a CCLS, I was a “clinical point person” at the camp – someone that the children in my group could turn to if they were feeling overwhelmed or wanted to discuss some deeper emotions that they were feeling. My group consisted of nine 6-8 year old girls (yes, VERY young)! We did art therapy, music therapy, and even pet therapy! All with the goals of identifying emotions and learning about our feelings as well as doing nice things for our loved one. One important thing that I noticed this camp provided was the opportunity for these children to realize that other kids go through this too & that they are not alone in their grief. It was so heartwarming to see the girls comfort eachother and really connect with the activities that we were doing. 

Camp Erin was an amazing experience and I definitely encourage all of you Child Life-ers out there to volunteer! If not as a clinical point person, then as a Cabin Big Buddy! It’s great experience (& will look so impressive on any application/resume)!