Child Life Students

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  • The university I am attending/will be attending does not have a Child Life program – what do I do? 
    • One of the many wonderful things about the child life profession is that you do not need to major specifically in child life to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). The university I attended for my undergrad did not have a child life specific major either – I majored in Family and Child Sciences and Spanish. Instead pick a major that relates to child life (i.e., child development, psychology, etc.).
      • “Applicants must have completed a total of 10 college – or university-level courses in child life or a related department/subject including a minimum of one child life course (defined below) taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). This is the form on which the CCLS instructor verifies that the child life-specific curriculum has been taught.” http://www.childlife.org/certification
  • Which classes specifically should I be taking in college that will count towards my eligibility assessment? 
    • This is a question I get asked VERY often. For such specific information, I always urge my readers to contact someone at the Association for Child Life Professionals (ACLP) so that they can give you the most precise answer. Email: certification@childlife.org  However, I can tell you that you need 10 college level courses that relate to Child Life including at least one course taught by a certified child life specialist. If your university does not offer a child life major or child life track, then they probably won’t have this course and you will need to take it elsewhere. I took mine as an online course from the University of New Hampshire. For more information on the 10 courses, click here: http://www.childlife.org/docs/default-source/certification/exam/cl-course-verification-form—final.pdf?sfvrsn=12
  • What is the “eligibility assessment”?
    • The eligibility assessment is basically the gate between all of the education and clinical work you have completed and sitting to take the child life certification exam. It’s great to begin the process of adding courses to your eligibility assessment form as soon as possible to make sure you’re on the right track. Once you have your Bachelor’s degree, 10 courses (1 of which was taught by a CCLS), and your internship completed, then you can submit your eligibility assessment. If approved, you may then register to take the certification exam. If not approved, then you will need to go back, fulfill the requirements and resubmit. For more information on the eligibility assessment process, click here: http://www.childlife.org/docs/default-source/certification/eligibility-assessment-process-pdf.pdf
  • Should I go to grad school right after I finish my Bachelor’s degree or should I begin my practicum/internship? 
    • This is another question that I often get asked which I cannot answer. Everyone’s adventure in child life is different. Personally, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, then did my practicum, then my internship, then became certified, and a year into my career as a CCLS, I began my Master’s degree. This wasn’t the right path or the wrong path – it was just my path and what worked best for me at the time. For specific questions regarding your path, e-mail the ACLP – certification@childlife.org 
  • Do you need a Master’s degree to become a CCLS? 
  • Do you have any tips or suggestions on how I can stand out in the Child Life world? 
  • Why, yes! I do! In fact, I wrote all my tips on this post: https://adventuresinchildlife.com/2015/11/07/how-to-stand-out-in-the-child-life-world/
  • Do you have any advice on how to study for the child life exam? 
  • This is another frequent question I receive which I have also written about here and here.

 

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Asthma Education

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Asthma is a pretty common diagnosis, not just on the respiratory unit where I work, but everywhere! I had asthma as a kid and I know lots of other kids around me had it too. It was something pretty “normal” to me growing up and I never really thought twice about what it was, why I had it, and I loved that it came with the perk of not having to run the mile in P.E. Even while working in the ER, a chief complaint of asthma was not a high priority compared to everything else coming into the department  (unless the patient had a very bad asthma attack).

Seeing more and more asthmatics come onto my unit now in the “winter” months down here in Miami, I began doing lots of research on different asthma education resources. I found tons of resources just by typing in “asthma education for children” in Google.

Here are just a few I found:

The list goes on and on and on, however, after a couple of asthma teachings using these resources, I felt like something was missing. I wanted to my patients to reach specific goals I had for them which were not always all covered by the resources I found.

My goals for my asthma lesson plan are:

  • What part of the body is affected by asthma (lungs)
  • How many lungs they have (you’ll be surprised how many older school aged kids have told me 1!)
  • What happens when you have an asthma attack (bronchial tubes become tighter)
  • What can cause an asthma attack (identifying triggers)
  • How can you help lungs/airways feel better if you have asthma (long-term medicine/quick relief medicine)
  • and what are the symptoms you might feel when you are in the green, yellow, or red zone (self-awareness)

I mixed some pages from various resources I found online and also created some pages myself to help me get my message across the way I feel is best for my patients. While creating my new asthma education packet, I still felt like I was missing an effective concrete example demonstrating the difference between healthy lungs and lungs experiencing an asthma attack. That’s when I created the activity below!

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  • While going over our asthma education packet, the patient and I cut out lungs from the packet (the best  printable version of lungs I found were from this website: http://learncreatelove.com/printable-lungs-craft/ ).
  • Then the patient and I will glue the lungs onto paper lunch bags. In an effort to save paper/materials, we make 1 lung with asthma and 1 lung without asthma vs 2 lungs with asthma and 2 lungs without asthma.
  • After we glue the lungs onto the paper bag, we tape a smoothie straw into one lung and a cocktail straw into the other lung. I have the patient then blow into the healthy lung and suck the air out a few times. Then I have the patient blow into the lung with asthma and such the air out a few times as well. This way, the patient can clearly experience the difference in breathing and how it is much more difficult to breathe during an asthma attack than when lungs are healthy. *Check with the patient’s nurse before doing this activity to make sure the patient is clinically stable enough to do breathing exercises. You wouldn’t want to exacerbate them!*
  • After this activity the patient and I then continue with the education packet (triggers, medicines, etc.)

There are TONS of resources on asthma out there – asthma books, asthma camps, asthma videos, asthma games…look on the child life forum too! As a reinforcer, I also created an asthma memory game to make patients more aware of common terminology usually associated with asthma (albuterol, pulmonologist, inhaler, spacer, etc.). I also encourage them to download (with their parent’s permission) an app called “Widzy pets” which centers around asthma education in a fun way.

What are some ways you help your patients learn about asthma?

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

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:

Cystic fibrosis resources! 

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Working on a respiratory unit I often have patients that have been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). This is a population I never worked with at my previous position in the pediatric emergency room so I had a lot of learning to do coming into my new position. May is CF awareness month so I thought I’d share some of the amazing resources I have found to help educate and support our CF patients.

With a quick google search, I was able to find (free!) resources via the cystic fibrosis foundation web page. I requested a couple of items, one of which is my ultimate favorite: a coloring/story book about a little panda with CF name Huxi! I was also sent booklets for parents/caregivers, booklets for teens, and a big “ultimate guide to CF” binder, stress balls, and luggage tags. I am so thankful for all of these resources and how they will help my patients (and myself) learn more about CF.

To see where I found these resources, follow the link below:

http://www.foundcare.com/fc-patients/resources/

Free Webinar 5/6/2016

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About this event:

Fathers have an important role in their child’s health, and their involvement benefits children, families, and fathers themselves. However, there are still instances when fathers are not included, or there are institutional biases that discourage fathers’ involvement in their child’s health care.
This free 1-hour webinar on Friday, May 6, 2016 at 12:00 PM (Central) hosted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Family Partnerships Network (FPN) and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (COPACFH) will feature 3 expert fathers, who will share a summary of the research on this topic, as well as anecdotal experiences of dads.

Follow the link to register: https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=ag60f5aa9gbd

Favorite find of the month

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Probably just like most of you reading this, I’m a sucker for child life-y apps! This month’s favorite find is an app called “Okee in Medical Imagining” created by the Royal Children’s Hospital all the way in Melbourne, Australia. This very cute & child friendly app gives it’s users an insiders view on different radiology tests and procedures – focusing on the 5 senses (what will i see? hear? feel? taste? smell?). The wording is very clear and concise, perfect for parents to read to their child or for kids to read on their own. Aside from the educational side, there are also fun games for the younger population that focuses on things like holding still, taking deep breaths, filling up with “glow ink” (contrast), finding broken bones on an x-ray, decorating your own CT machine, giving finding sea stars inside a jellyfish with an ultrasound, venturing in the MRI submarine, and even games for nuclear medicine and fluoroscopy!

 For more information about the app visit: http://www.rch.org.au/okee/

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