If you have always dreamed of working closely with children in a healthcare setting, you may want to consider pursuing the rewarding title of child life specialist. A child life specialist is a certified healthcare practitioner and child development specialist who works closely with children who are ill and their families. Specialists who are certified to work with children who are hospitalized have a profound effect on reducing the trauma that most children experience after the diagnosis of an illness. If you are a compassionate person who wants to be a part of the solution in helping sick children and their families cope more effectively, this is a great career opportunity.
What Will You Help Patients With as a Child Life Specialist?
As a child life specialist, you will work with both children and their parents. Working with the parents of children who are ill can be a very emotional role, but those who are the right fit for this career find it very rewarding. You will do a number of different things on a daily basis, but you will always be in contact with patients and their parents. When you are working with an ill child, some of your duties will include: guiding them through the treatment process, engaging in child-directed play, counseling children so that they can gain control, connecting patients will peers, offering therapeutic outlets and preparing siblings for visits that can be emotional in nature.
You will also need to work with adults who are naturally concerned about the health of their child. When you are working with parents, you may start by helping them understand the diagnosis and then addressing the parents' concerns regarding treatment. You may also help a family staying in the hospital or attending procedures ease their stresses and create a sense of home in the hospital. You will work so closely with families as a support system and a person to talk, which will create strong bonds and trust.
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How Can You Become a Child Life Specialist?
As a psycho-social care specialist working directly with children, you will need to have a lot of formal training and knowledge on child development. You can choose from many different degree programs, but it is important to choose a degree program that will prepare you to pass the exam through the Child Life Council. You can study any bachelor's degree major, but many choose to study Child Development and Family Sciences. According to the Child Life Council, after earning a degree, one will need to complete 480 hours of interning under the supervision of a specialist before sitting for the exam. This is the equivalent of clinical experience in the field of nursing. Similarly, a majority of hospitals and hospice environments require one to be certified before working in the setting.
Do you want to help children and their families? Have you always dreamed of working in the healthcare industry? If you answered yes, consider this career and help families cope while children regain a sense of control in their lives. A hospitalization is never easy, but with a child life specialist by a family's side, coping is much easier.