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!

 

Favorite Find of the Month

Hello Child Life-ers!

If you know me you know I’m a sucker for freebies, which is why this month’s favorite find are these adorable nursing coloring books by Johnson & Johnson!

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If you’re interested in these, you can find them at¬†http://www.discovernursing.com/resources/free-materials#no-filters ¬†(on the 2nd page). You’re able to order 25 at a time & have them shipped to your hospital. They make a great give away for any department & your nurses will LOVE them!

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.

Favorite apps

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I just recently got approval to use an iPad as a tool for distraction and education with my patients. I am so grateful to finally be able to use this amazing tool! Here are some of my favorite apps that I’ve been using:

Medi toons is my go-to app when doing appy teachings for older kids and parents. it’s a free app that shows videos about different (mostly gastro) conditions.

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This app was recently reviewed by one of my favorite child life bloggers, child life mommy. It’s a [free] app that helps teach little ones to control their frustration by remembering to breathe, think, and then do!
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Wellapets is an awesome [free] app about asthma! This interactive game does a great job of promoting asthma education in a fun way.

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This is my go to app for MRI & CT scan teachings. Just last week I had a 9yo patient that¬†was going to have an MRI. He’d had them before but was¬†always been sedated for them. I showed him what the MRI machine sounded like with this app & thanks to that, he said he didn’t need any medicine to do his MRI this time. Thanks, Simply Sayin’!

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Disney Junior Appisodes is a forever favorite. This app features familiar beloved characters in an interactive & colorful display. This is ideal for lengthy procedures & really engages children in the appisode.

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Caillou’s check up app has been a very popular pick on my iPad. So popular I decided to splurge a bit ($4.99) and unlock all of the “levels” (you get the first level for free). With this app you’re able to help Caillou with his doctor’s office check up: taking his temperature, height, weight, etc.

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I downloaded this app just as a filler to have more choices for my toddler population and for some reason it’s also been a very popular choice amongst my patients. It’s a simple free little app in which you’re given tasks to complete such as ¬†puzzles, picking the largest fish, picking the smallest fish, etc. while calming, ocean-themed music plays in the background. I’m very impressed with this app and it’s popularity!

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And finally, Skylanders Lost Islands. This free app is VERY popular with wide age range of my male patients. It’s great for the younger ones because it plays a 4-5minute video upon starting which is very dramatic and engaging. For my older boys, it’s a fun and interactive game with familiar characters.

Worth it: 002

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Earlier this week we had a little 5-year-old, let’s call her Emily, visit the ER for constipation. After 2 unsuccessful enemas, the doctors and nurses decided it would be best to just have her drink a medicine that would help do the job of the enema. Little Emily would drink a sip, cry about how bad it tasted, and then spend the time¬†between sips¬†bargaining¬†with her mom for alternatives to avoid taking another sip. During this chaos, one of the ed techs called for me. I went in and introduced myself. Emily was shy and serious¬†upon meeting me, but as soon as I brought out my bubble wand she was all smiles! Leaping up to catch the bubbles, giggling, and smiling from ear to ear. Once all the bubbles popped, she looked at me to blow more – I told her that in order for me to blow more, she needed to take a sip.¬†Immediately¬†she grabbed the cup from mom’s hand, took a sip, and I blew¬†more bubbles. When the bubbles popped and the giggles stopped, she said she didn’t want anymore sips. I encouraged her to take another this and then I would blow a BIG BIG bubble. She smiled again and took another sip. I then blew a big big bubble. This went on for a few minutes while she drank the rest of her medicine. In the end, I congratulated her for being brave and drinking her medicine even though it didn’t taste good and since she was so brave, I gave her her own bubble wand to take home with her. The parent’s were relieved that their visit to the ER didn’t end with their little Emily crying all the way home.

Favorite find of the month

I thought I’d post my favorite find of the month a couple of days early this time around¬†–¬†before it’s no longer available! A few months back you might remember my post about prepping little ones for x-rays. I’ve been using my “cooper gets an x-ray” book along with a little camera to teach¬†those concrete thinkers about picture taking & the mysteries that lie in that dark, “scary”, radiology department.

Well, this month I found an awesome little “camera” – LED flash & all – at Bath & Bodyworks. As child life specialists, were always carrying a million things in our pockets (I know I am) so the thing I loved most about this little camera is that it’s also a case for your hand sanitizer and a keychain! It’s a very fancy upgrade from my tiny spongebob camera and I can use it for many different things!

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Bath & Bodyworks – camera pocketpac case

How I studied for the certification exam

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When I finally signed up to take my certification exam, I quickly became overwhelmed with what/how I had to study. The Child Life Council has a list of suggested materials for you to review before the test – ( http://childlife.org/files/CandidateManual.pdf — page 15) – but it can definitely be overwhelming to be given a list of textbooks as suggested study material . Here is what/how I studied for the certification exam (and yes, I passed on my first try!)

I began studying exactly one month before the date of my exam. I’ve never studied for one thing for so long with such a broad study guide so I knew I was in for an adventure.

Speaking of adventures, here’s a little timeline of my child life adventure – so you know where my studying starting point is: I graduated from college in spring 2012, took my intro to child life class in fall 2012, did my practicum in spring 2013, finished my internship in fall 2013, began working in January 2014, and was now taking the certification exam in March 2014. I’ve been consistently engaged with Child Life for 2 years – that being said, my studying was based on all that I’ve experienced and learned during my consistent Child Life adventure so I felt confident skipping over some material & focusing more on others.

So, first thing’s first: textbooks.

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I’m a very thorough note taker so having studied two of these books for my intro to child life course and the other two during my internship, I already had a ton of material to go over. I went through all of my notes of each chapter of each book and rewrote things I felt would come up on the test.

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The readings for ethics and the one for volunteers I had (luckily) made photo copies of from a friend and I’m so happy that I did! There were absolutely questions relating to these two topics on the exam. If you don’t have a copy of these materials already, get them! It may seem like a subject that’s common sense but reading through these two materials helped me a lot with various questions on the test.

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Another tool that helped me a lot were these two little gems from the Child Life Council. The study guide has great test taking tips and practice exams with answers! And, “the official documents of the Child Life Council” is a good resource to have whether you’re taking the test or not because it is filled with important information about our profession.

As for things I did not do:
– use the “child life certification exam” flash cards. I am HUGE on using flash cards to study but there was just so much information on each of the cards and a lot of lists “8 reasons ___”5 ways that children ___”10 most common ___”. I think I got through about 10 before I pushed them aside. They just didn’t “go” with my studying style.
– review a child development textbook or a nursing textbook. I felt confident enough with these two subjects based on all of my experiences leading up to this exam to be able to skip over them.
– try to rush or obsess over a question. While taking the test, if a question was unclear or if I was having trouble picking an answer, I left it blank and went back to it at the end of the test (you have FOUR hours!) This was a great tip because with the practice exams I noticed I would get ahead of myself and try and answer the questions as quickly as possible making me misread what the actual question was asking. Pay attention to what the question is asking and don’t be fooled by additional information given to try and trick you! and always always go back and reread your answers after you’ve completed your exam. always.
– study the day before the exam. By this point, I had studied for a MONTH. If I didn’t know something by this point I wasn’t going to learn it the day before the exam. My brain needed a much needed relaxing day off before the big show.
– freak out the day of. Sure, it was nerve wrecking, but as soon as I say down at the computer I said to myself “I’ve been studying every day for a month and I’ve been living this for two years. It’s time to answer some questions about this topic that I love so much.”

…And just like that, a (scary) two months later, I found out I had passed! (March 2014 exams took way longer to reveal test scores for some reason – lucky me. I’ve been told that you normally find out whether you’ve passed or failed immediately after you submit your test.)

Best of luck to all of you child life-ers out there studying!!

*Update 9/13/15* I have realized that the two resources on volunteers and ethics have been difficult to find. The copies that I have were photocopied and given to me along my Child Life journey so I am not even sure of the title of the book to be able to search on Amazon. Also, I cannot post the copies of the documents online as that may violate copyright regulations. If you think there is something better that I can do to (legally) provide this information to all of my aspiring Child Life Specialists, please, e-mail me and let me know! dianemo.ccls@gmail.com

Choosing Your Child Life Internship Project

Image¬† ¬† ¬† 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 Рwho 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

IV / sutures prep doll

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Hi everyone, meet Harper! She is my little mermaid friend that helps me teach my younger patients about two very common ER procedures: IV’s and sutures. With her by my side, I am able to explain to little ones how this is going to help them & yes, that even mermaids get this done sometimes too. At first Harper only had an IV and I would bring her around especially after very tearful IV starts. She’s served as a window for me to be able to talk about their/her IV without tears flowing again.
One day, I was helping a little 4-year-old that was getting sutures placed on her foot. She did fantastic throughout my prep before & during the procedure itself. However, when she saw the finished product she began to cry & exclaimed “the doctor put thorns in my foot!” – I knew then I needed something, or someone, to help me show kids what it will look like after the procedure. I didn’t have another stuffed friend so Harper stepped up to the task. Luckily she has long hair so I just cover up whichever arm I don’t need to show.

* Because of infection control issues, Harper is only for show. She does not stay with the patients nor do they get to play with her. Sorry kids, Harper is too sensitive for human germs!*