& my adventure continues…

IMG_8726.JPG

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! 

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

IMG_8112

  • 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!)

IMG_8183 IMG_5469IMG_3146

2015

IMG_5899January 6th marks my one year anniversary of having started my career as a Child Life Specialist. I thought I’d be cool if I shared some things I learned during my first year as a CCLS as well as some confessions!

  • Socrates could not have been more right when he said “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” With this year coming to an end, I am shocked at how much I’ve learned this year through all of my experiences. I can’t help but wonder how I survived the first couple of months not knowing what I know today. When I finished my internship I thought I knew it all and was READY to take on the (child life) world! Turns out I didn’t (and don’t) know it all but I am constantly growing and learning.
  • My introduction of services changes as often as the hospital makes me change my passwords. Does this happen to anyone else?!
  • It’s so rare to meet a family that knows what Child Life is that when a mother says “Oh! we love child life!” I (on more than one occasion!) become so shocked I lose my train of thought and forget what to say.
  • It’s a lot harder to get (appropriate) donations than it seems.
  • As much as I tell patients to take a deep breath and let it go, I give myself the same advice. Sometimes there are just some situations where nothing I do/say helps, and that’s okay! Better to have tried and lost than to have never tried at all.
  • It’s hard at first, but it’s so exhilarating to have the weekend off and not check your work e-mail from home.
  • Not all days are filled with fun, exciting, and clever Child Life interventions, but the days that are… those are the best days.
  • Prioritizing is a skill and needs to be practiced. For example, the other day I was on the way to the bathroom when a 6 year old girl ran out of her room screaming and crying because the doctor just told her she’s going to have blood drawn. As I was walking up to her another doctor stopped to ask me to assist with a nervous 8 year old laceration repair. While trying to decide who to help first, my phone rings with the radiology department asking for my assistance with a 3 year old patient that is having a hard time coping with her CT scan. So, in these three situations that were happening at the moment, how do I prioritize? I’ll let you guess which situation I took care of first, but I can tell you that I waited until all of this was over and everyone was happy until I went to the bathroom! 1 point for my super bladder!
  • Gaining holiday weight is not a thing for Child Life Specialists because you spend the month of December running, carrying, squatting, and pushing heavy stretchers/flatbeds  through the hospital – and we couldn’t be more grateful!
  • I am so incredibly happy that I get to go to work every day and do my dream job.

Child Life Conference: Recap!

Just last month I went to the Child Life Conference in New Orleans. This was my first time attending conference and it was MAGICAL! I don’t know why I had never gone as a student – I guess I thought that going to conference was more of a professionals thing to go to, but I was wrong! To all of you Child Life Students out there reading my blog, GO TO CONFERENCE IF YOU’RE ABLE TO! They have a little session for students and it’s such an amazing networking opportunity for future internships, jobs, and schools.

Here’s a recap of all of the fun:

Location:

New Orleans was a BLAST to visit. I’ve been to NOLA before but it’s such a fun city full of culture, delicious food, and child life specialists (during conference anyways)!

20140604-165727-61047278.jpg

20140604-165727-61047546.jpg

Exhibit Hall:

Alright so, I love shopping just as much as the next girl… especially when it’s for Child Life things! The exhibit hall was full of vendors that tailor to Child Life Specialist. This was a great place to see what resources are out there in the Child Life world as a professional and for personal things like cute water bottles, child life badges, and postcards.

20140604-164542-60342470.jpg

Some of my favorites from the exhibit hall were:
(I was not paid by any of these companies/organizations to promote them – although, that would be really cool if I was.)

20140604-164242-60162083.jpg

20140604-164241-60161995.jpg
http://www.alphabotz.com/ – no mess coloring play books

http://www.comfortkits.org/ – send free comfort kits to pediatric patients

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aquatic-Relief-Therapy/371079936335589 – fish tank on wheels!

http://www.monkeyinmychair.org/ – life size stuffed monkey to sit in (chronically ill patients) seat at school

http://www.projectsunshine.org/ – provide resources to children/families in hospitals

 

 

Conference:

Being able to choose sessions to go to and be surrounded by fellow CCLS was so exciting. I learned a lot from the sessions I went to and the CLC even handed out jump drives with all of the powerpoints/handouts from all of the sessions so you don’t miss out on anything. There were also many people at the CLC from around the world to participate in the international summit following the child life conference.

 

20140604-165834-61114171.jpg

Happy New Year, everyone!

Image
     Tomorrow is my first official day working as a Child Life Specialist. While I know I’m going to be getting oriented for a couple of weeks or so, I can’t help but feel so nervous! and excited! Tomorrow will mark exactly 1 month since I finished my internship so I haven’t been out of the hospital routine for too long. I still can’t believe I’ve been given this amazing opportunity & I’m so thankful for everyone that’s helped me along the way. My whole road to child life took me a little over one year:

Spring 2012: Graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree

Fall 2012: Volunteered with the child life department at a children’s hospital & took “intro to child life” online

Spring 2013: Practicum

Fall 2013: Internship

Spring 2014: Job!

      Best of luck to all of you out there starting volunteering/practicums/internships/jobs this Spring! Remember I always encourage my readers to e-mail me (dvm10c@gmail.com) with any thoughts or questions about child life, I’d love to help out fellow child life-ers out there in any way that I can.

HIRED!

HIRED!

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve just been hired to work as a Child Life Specialist in the Pediatric Emergency Department at a hospital here in Miami starting in January. I am so incredibly excited & so thankful that I was given this opportunity. I really want to thank all of my readers for always keeping me motivated to post to my child life blog. I’ve had this blog since I started volunteering with child life, throughout my practicum, my internship, and now into the start of my career. I look forward to continuing to post about my experiences now as a first-year CLS & preparing for the certification exam (which I plan to take this March). I DID IT! HOORAY!

{Image Source: http://blog.themediacrew.com/}