Don’t forget the teens


During my practicum I always struggled when interacting with teens. Being that I was 21 years old when I was doing my practicum, it seemed awkward for me to provide child life services to someone who was so close in age. During my internship I went out of my comfort zone and really made an effort to connect with my adolescent population. Thus began my new found love for providing child life services to teens (as much as I would for any other age.) Now that I’m working as a child life specialist, I’m always looking for ways to keep our teen population included when it comes to giveaways/things to do while in the ER because while yes, teens do love being on their phones, phones run out of battery and there is only so many times you can refresh your twitter newsfeed before you go crazy. Here’s a list of what I have (so far):

  • A variety of “teen movies” for them to choose from to watch in their rooms
  • Age appropriate board games (apples to apples, connect 4, uno, regular cards, etc)
  • An x-box on wheels with age appropriate games (need for speed, nba 2k13, etc)
  • And, my latest option to hand out: Mandala art!

Mandala art is supposed to be therapeutic to color if you’re coloring from the inside out {} . I hand out a few sheets and some coloring pencils to my teens who are interested and it’s been a hit! I’m so glad that I’m able to provide my teen population with things that they enjoy & are age appropriate.

Syringe painting


One of my favorite activities to do with my patients is syringe painting. I haven’t had much of a chance to do it in a while and last week I finally got the opportunity! I was supporting a very spunky & brave 7-year-old during her IV start which took a long time because her veins were “very sleepy” and “not popping out”. She began to ask questions about everything the nurse was using and different medical equipment in the room. I was able to pull out some medical supplies she could manipulate and become familiar with, including syringes. When I showed it to her she seemed confused, asking where the needle was. After I explained to her that the needle is placed if needed, I realized “this is a great patient to do syringe painting with!”
Once her IV was placed, I went and brought back some paint in medicine cups, construction paper, a syringe (of course), and some q-tips to spread the paint around the paper. She had a blast painting with medical supplies!

Child life month – first timer


As you all may know, this is my first year celebrating Child Life Month as a Child Life Specialist! Very exciting!! However, I am the only CLS in my department so it’s really up to me how I decide to celebrate Child Life month (no pressure, right?!). Being that I started working in January, I am still too shy to go all out and make shirts, organize a flash mob, create games with prizes, call the news stations, etc. So, here’s what I’ve done!

– A banner (Mara Mi tablecloth target- on sale!) which I hung above a main intersection in our unit. *Warning* the paint bleeds through the tablecloth & paper placed between floor & tablecloth will stick to the tablecloth when dry. #RookieMistake
– We have a bulletin board in our staff bathroom which needed a little tlc so I (with the help of some fabulous nurses that are very excited for Child Life month) fixed up the bulletin board & added a fun little Child Life info sheet which I’ll change weekly for the month of March. The info sheet includes: child life tip, did you know…?, get to know your child life specialist (2 truths & 1 lie about me), & a favorite child life quote.
– I was also able to gain custody (for this month at least) of a bulletin board in a high-traffic area in our unit! I dressed it up with “Lucky to have Child Life” (idea inspired by a post on the Child Life Council blog) & a “who, what, when, where, & why” about child life (info from the Child Life Council as well).
– I wanted to do a little more so I met with my boss to see what she could help me with to celebrate Child Life month & I was able to write a post for the monthly newsletter and have food ordered for the staff on a date of my choice.

Not too shabby for a first timer, if I do say so myself! The staff in my ER is great and really supporting my role as a CLS. From doctors and nurses giving me excellent referrals, to staff members asking if they can help me bag crayons or clean toys, to even brainstorming child life month activities! I may be the only cls in my department but I’m definitely not alone :).

Starting off!

WOW! I thought I was busy during my internship – I have not stopped since I started working! Anyways, I wanted to give you guys a little update on starting as a child life specialist in the ER:

         I am the only specialist in our ER and we have about 19 rooms plus a rapid care area – I do very little sitting! It was a little scary and overwhelming at first because although I spent time in an ER during my internship, it was only for two weeks… four months ago. Thankfully, I had great support from CLS’s on other units of the hospital and especially from a CLS at one of our “sister hospitals” who also works in the ER. I was very lucky to have been able to train for a few weeks with the her! I was able to refresh my memory on child life interventions in the ER as well as learn how to provide support during high-stress situations such as a traumas/codes. During my time with her, I really got  my interventions down for common things such as IV’s, sutures, conscious sedations, and x-ray’s and CT scans and got advice on how to handle not so common situations.  Just what I needed to go off & be on my own!

          I expected that starting at my hospital was going to be another scary and overwhelming moment. Now, I was really on my own! On my own to meet my fellow coworkers and know who’s who, to prioritize my patients without discussing with a supervisor my reasoning behind it, to develop interventions, and everything else that  I’ve ever relied on my supervisors for. But, to my surprise, everything just came so naturally and I knew what to do! Thanks to my experiences during volunteering, my practicum, my internship, and my orientation, I wasn’t overwhelmed or scared – if anything I was more ready than ever. During my first two weeks, I prepped patients for appendectomies, conscious sedations, sutures, IV’s, you name it – and the best part of it all is that I felt confident doing it all! I remember during my internship thinking ” I can’t believe I’m going to be prepping patient’s all on my own one day for an appendectomy!” – it’s so incredible how much you truly learn through experience.

Here’s some of the gear I had to start off with. Some of it I purchased & some of it I had given to me by a very awesome CLS 🙂

         There are still times where I reach out to my fellow CLS’s to ask for advice and I know I still have a lot to learn but, as a first time CLS taking on a fast paced & larger unit, I’d day I’m doing a really amazing  job. It’s been about two months now that I’ve been working as a child life specialist and I am really loving every second of it. Whenever I’m asked how my new job is going I always reply, with a big smile “Great! I love my job!”
I’m very happy to be a child life specialist! It really is the best job ever!

Theme week – Day 5, World Fair!

For our grand finale of our theme week we decided to have a World Fair! We had stickers, passports, globe stress balls, and globe headbands to hand out to the kiddos that came by (all purchases from oriental trading.)



As for crafts, kids could either travel to Brazil to make carnival headdresses or to Venice, Italy to make carnival masks.

Materials for carnival headdresses:
– foam visors
– foam shapes
– gems
– feathers
– tape


Materials for carnival masks:
– plastic masks
– sharpies
– glitter glue
– gems


This may look like just your average run of the mill 1940’s slinky, and it is…kind of. A slinky can be used by Child Life to teach a school aged patient about a lumbar puncture by comparing the slinky to a spine. Pretty cool, huh? It can also be used for endless fun if put on an escalator!

A children’s hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., has opened its doors to the pets of its long-term patients.

Healing Paws is a new dog visitation program at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, USA Today reports. It aims to make life a little bit better for its pediatric patients.


Paul and the Dragon

Paul is feeling sick and needs to go to the hospital. After several tests he is diagnosed with cancer. He does not understand what is happening to him, and what the medications are doing. He feels scared and alone. His doctor explains to him that the cancer is like a dragon in 
his body that needs to be fought. As a true hero, young Paul fights the dragon, together with the medications and the love of his family, and wins.

This film is for children with cancer and their families. The film portrays the child with cancer as a hero who has to battle an evil dragon living inside of their body. In this 
exciting humorous metaphor, children will also learn about problems and issues that can arise when a child has cancer. This visual representation of cancer is intended 
to initiate conversation about what is happening, and help alleviate the fears the child may have.