A Bitter Sweet Moment



On July 13th, I finished my 640 hour-child life internship! This was a bitter sweet moment. While I was ready to head back northwest and spend time with my family; it was bitter sweet, because I had made so many friendships, changed families lives, helped little ones through painful procedures and made many lasting memories.

During my internship, I learned so much. From distracting and educating a five-year-old who was getting stiches, a one year old who needed surgery to helping children walk again after an appendectomy. During an internship one learns that no two children are the same and so therefore a distraction may not work and that is okay. Nothing is always 100% going to.

I also learned that you also never know the impact that you make on the patients or their families or even the staff that I worked with. As I prepared to leave the hospital one final time the nurses that I got to know very well (inpatient peds, CED and ENDO) told me that they wished I could stay and that I had really been a great help to them and that whatever hospital hired me was going to be very lucky.

On more than one occasion, I was told by families that their child’s hospital experience was better, because I had taken it upon myself to make sure that the child did have a better experience. One patient, a 16-year-old’s parent told me that, because of my interaction, explanation of the IV and surgery (this was ENDO) and offering the VR goggles as a distraction; the patient was able to sit and have the nurses do the IV. He sat there and didn’t even flinch. All he said was Ow and continued to play the game. The mom was so amazed and gave me a high five and told me that he was very fearful of needles. While the nurses looked at me with big smiles. One of which told me later that I had done an amazing job with the patients today and that they couldn’t have done it without me.

Another experience that stood out to me was my last day at the hospital. A 2-year-old female came into the CED with her mom and dad. The nurse needed to start an IV and take blood. Child life was called in to educate and distract the child. This was done by showing the patient the little straw that was going to give her body a drink and make her feel better. While I finished up explaining it on her new teddy bear CL had given her, I began blowing bubbles as distraction. The patient gradually began popping the bubbles. However, that was until she saw the items for the IV. In seeing them, she began crying. Encouraging the parents to talk to their child and hold her hand, they came forward and began calming her, while I still blew bubbles. After the ordeal they headed upstairs to the pediatric floor.  After they were settled, I asked the child if they wanted a popsicle aka ice pop (who knew they were called this up in NY????). The child’s eyes grew wide and she nodded her head. Learning that she liked grape, I went and got one for her. Along with a movie and a very special toy.

Coming back in a little while later, I had the items along with a fake tea set and cookies. Before offering the gift, I asked the family if it was alright if the child have the cookies. They told me it was fine and the child began playing with the tea set. Her mom said “Do you want to ask Ashley if she wants some tea?” the child nodded her head and said in her little voice “Ashley do you want tea?” She was so cute! As we had a tea party the parents and I continued talking. They told me that they knew they had come to the right hospital. Not only, because the healthcare professional treated their daughter better, but because child life was there and really made a big difference and impact. They told me that they would see me the next day, but I had to tell them I was heading back to my home state on Saturday. Being sad that I was leaving the family told me to have a safe trip and the best of luck after graduation and that whatever hospital hired me were going to be very lucky. Sometimes it’s the little things.

During my three-and-a-half-month internship, I also learned that I LOVE same day surgery and Endoscopy/colonoscopy surgeries. It is amazing what you thought you ended up liking was still one of your favorite areas (Behavioral health), but that another area turned out to be just a little better. And it isn’t that I love BH any less, because I don’t, but I learned that you can have several areas of interest and that is okay.

The surgical areas allowed me to educate, prepare and distract during scary times. I prepped children as young as 3 up to 17 years of age. Working in surgeries you see how resilient children are. Nothing fazes them. Not even IV’s. Once the IV is in the children continuing play on the I-pad, continued to laugh as I blow bubbles or takeout several bears with big red kickballs on a game with the Virtual Reality Goggles. You also get the chance to have a very structured day and walk beside the patients and their families through registration, preparation, walking back to the surgical suite and check up on them in recovery. You are given the opportunity to build that rapport and to have that interaction at each of those areas. The family knows you are going to be there during every step of the way and they very much appreciate it.

Two of my favorite interventions during my internship consisted of syringe painting and my own little game. Sticker Scavenger hunt! The syringe painting allowed the patients to familiarize themselves with this medical equipment. It also allowed them to become creative and make a cool master piece with the medical equipment and paint!

The sticker scavenger hunt was used for those patients who had to get up and walk before being discharged i.e. appendectomy. Not only did this activity meet the doctors goal of the patient walking, but it also allowed the patient to gain mastery of walking and standing up straight as they hunted for the many stickers that were hidden around the unit. Once they found all the stickers the patient was able to pick a prize from the child life closet. During my internship I did approximately 6-10 sticker scavenger hunts.

Lastly, throughout my internship, I was given the amazing opportunity to educate student nurses about child life. I taught them about the long and hard process that it takes to become a CCLS. I told them that it is actually just has hard to become a CCLS as it is to become a doctor—getting your medical placement that is. I not only educated them about child life, but also educated them about the use of words when talking to the patients, being mindful of the child’s temperament and how children are not little adults. Children see things different compared to adults. For example, young children 2-5 have that magical thinking. They misunderstand or misconstrue something that has been told to them. Die vs. dye. By having the nurses explain to the young child in ways that they can understand allows for not only the patient to have a better medical experience, but also the families and the nurses and other healthcare professionals as well. Working together leads to a better outcome and a better day overall.

All and all my internship was an amazing experience! One I am truly grateful and blessed for and one I wouldn’t change for anything. As this chapter closed in my life, I now look to the future. Graduation is Saturday and I have been applying to jobs!

Until next time!


Medical Play!

A medical play session during my internship!

In the field of child life we use a form of play not many are familiar with…medical play. Medical play shows the child what they are going to face while in the hospital. For example, a four-year-old needs an IV. The child is a little apprehensive and very scared. How does one communicate with this child? The child life specialist engages with this child through this certain form of play. The CLS shows the patient a stuffed animal or a shadow buddy (blank cloth doll) along with the proper medical equipment for an IV start (tourniquet, alcohol pad (a washcloth), syringe, catheter and the little straw that is in place of the needle).



IVBy providing these proper tools a child can explore an IV start step by step.

Step 1: Clean area where IV will be (with the small washcloth)

Step 2: Place tourniquet around stuffed animals or dolls arm (it is like a tight hug)

Step 3: Place catheter into the stuffed animals/dolls arm

Step 4: Leaving a little plastic straw (this gives the stuffed animal/doll a drink to make them feel better)

Medical play not only allows the child to familiarize themselves with medical equipment, but it also shows the patient what they might see, feel, hear, smell or taste during their procedure. With the help of medical play and other distractions (bubbles, iPad, I Spy Book etc.) the child’s fear(s) diminishes and can receive the IV with little to no tears. However, while this technique is helpful, there can come a time where medical play or any other type of preparation can go amiss. While we would like to think, medical play (or other distractions) works 100% of the time it however does not. Sometimes, children still are fearful and will retreat to screaming and crying and that is okay. What one technique works for one child will not work for every child.

During my internship I have done several medical play sessions. From helping a 4 year old understand about stiches to a 6 year old understand about an IV start. When at all possible, I try to prep and educate the child. This allows for a better outcome for everyone involved.

I hope this has shown those who are unfamiliar with child life understand medical play, but more importantly why medical play is significant during a child’s hospital stay.


Until next time!


P.S. I have been at my internship for three months! In 2-3 weeks I will be done and then graduation is on July 21st!!!!!!!

SpellBound to Dream Land—SpellBound and Endoscopy Surgeries



How do you balance the load of pediatric patients that sit anxiously waiting their endoscopy surgeries? How do you calm them during their IV starts? How do you calm them as they sit in a cold, colorless operating room waiting for the anesthesiologist and the surgeon? How do you get the stress and worries of the hospital to subside? I, Ashley a child life intern help kids cope during their endoscopy surgeries. I utilizes bubbles, I-pads, Virtual Reality Goggles (the kids love these!), guided imagery and the art of conversation. Through the different distractions there might even be a laugh or two while I interact with pediatric patients of all ages.

However, there is a trick hidden within my phone that I like to utilize—SpellBound app. with the distraction cards the nurses are able to get the IV into place. The patient is distracted by the moving animal or some other creature on the screen that they don’t notice that the IV has been put into place. Spellbound is such a great distraction tool that everyone who has children should utilize. The smallest distraction could help in big ways.

If you don’t know what Spellbound is well let me just tell you. SpellBound creates applications for phones and I-pads that can be used to distract pediatric patients from any procedure. They have things that go with short procedures like a shot or IV to a lengthier procedure. Their saying is “Distract, Engage, Motivate.”

A few weeks ago, I was featured on SpellBounds blog for utilizing their products. I have left a link to my guest blog post. Also, you can get more information on their products.



Up next is my guest blog post on Child Life Cooperative’s website. Stay tuned.


Until next time!

Two Months Into My Adventure!



Today marks my second month being at my internship. Hard to believe I have two months under my belt! I am sure June will go by just as fast.

During these past two months, I have experienced so much and learned a great deal along the way. I have learned about IV starts, blood draws, stiches, broken bones, Asthma treatments and many other things. My favorite units/departments that I have enjoyed the most are endoscopy/ same day surgeries and Behavioral Health (I bet you didn’t see the last one coming, lol). Each of these areas has allowed me to grow personally and professionally. Not only have I grown in my development in child life, but also in my own life.

In my last post, I talk about the lives you change and how you sometimes never know that you have. On more than one occasion, I have been told by parents and patients that I was a blessing and that I am going to be great at what I do. Those families have no idea how much those compliments to me. I could have known them for five minutes or for a couple of days and I receive compliments like that on a regular basis. You just never know when you make a person’s day. While you may be having a rough day, you may be making someone else’s.

During one of my endoscopy days, I encountered a 13-year-old male. While walking by the prep room (I had just come from the surgical suite with another patient) I hear the nurses talk about starting an IV on this new patient. As they head out of the room, I B-line it into the room. Introducing myself, I tell the parent and the patient what my role is at the hospital. Telling the patient I have VR goggles, I ask him if he would like to try them. His eyes get wide and he nodes his head yes. After getting the goggles into place and he begins playing, the mom looks at me and mouths “He has bad needle phobia.” As he was playing, all he said was “Ow” when the IV went in. The mom gave me a high five and the nurses looked at me with smiles on their faces. It is amazing the smallest of things that can make the biggest impact.

As the patient was being prepped in the surgical suite, the surgeon came into the room and mentioned how great child life was. The mom agreed and thought I was a God sent. The mom thought someone had contacted me, because she had mentioned that her son had bad anxiety with needles. As she was saying that, I guess I showed up. Talk about being at the right place at the right time.

After the patient was asleep, I went out into the waiting area to locate mom. Normally when I finish up with a patient, I always go into the waiting room and inform the parents how their child did going off to sleep. Anyways, heading out to the waiting area, I saw mom sitting there and we started talking. She told me I was going to do amazing things with my job and that I was going to be one of the lucky ones to receive a job in my line of work, because my passion just shinned through.

After seeing the mom back to her son in the recovery room a little while later, I talked to some of the nurses and one of them told me “We can’t thank you enough. You really did an amazing job today.” I told her I really appreciated that and, that ENDO was one of my favorite areas I had been in so far.

So, during these past two months, I have enjoyed it, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little homesick or been bored at times. Who doesn’t during their internship? While I have two months complete, I have been starting the process of looking for jobs. That in its self is for another blog post.

I know I said I would be updating more than what I have, but in my defense, my internship has been keeping me busy (or as much as it can at this point). Up next will either be medical play or my guest blog post on Spellbound.

Until next time!


The Lives You Change…



During our lives we never fully know the impact we make on others. It could be a small gesture as saying hello and smiling to a stranger or buying someone’s meal that is behind you. That gesture could make their entire day, because we never know what they could be going through. They could have just received some devastating news: a diagnosis, a loved one passing away, finances. Anything. That one simple random act of kindness changed their entire day. And it was all because of you.

How do we do this within the healthcare field? Easy, right? Not entirely so. We have bad days where we just want to throw it all in. We want to scream at someone, eat an entire mega milkshake (milkshake, cake on top and a lollypop—NYC!) or just want to do anything except our work. However, we can’t leave our patients and their families. We must stay there and suffer through the bad moments. We all have them. If someone says they don’t (in any line of work) they are lying. During the hard times, we have to look on the bright side (hard I know), but when you have those special moments with a patient, family or even a co-worker it is all worth it. Even if it is only for a few moments or maybe even a couple of days. You helped make that person’s life a little better, a little brighter.

In the past six weeks of my internship, I have changed several families lives. More than what I probably realize. For example, I had a parent tell me I had become famous with one of her friend’s families. Her friend texted her and said “Make sure you ask for Ashley, she is a Child Life Specialist student. She is amazing. During my son’s visit last week, she blew bubbles and made our stay at the hospital amazing. She went out of her way to make us feel welcomed and comfortable.” She looked up from her phone after reading and asked. “Are you Ashley?” I smiled and said yes (even though I already introduced myself).

Another example would be when I was in ENDO surgery and I had a parent tell me that she was so grateful for me. The parent was scared for her child and seeing her child interacting with me through our love of Grey’s Anatomy and fried pickles, the mom knew than that her daughter would be fine and that, she (the parent) could freak out on the inside and that was okay. It was okay for her to freak out, because she knew that I was going to be with her daughter. As I talked to the mom in the waiting room, she gave me a hug and told me that I was going to make an amazing child life specialist and that you could tell that I loved doing what I did.

Or even when I am in the ER and a parent tells me that they thought I was the actual child life specialist and not a student. The parent thought I did that good of a job prepping and distracting their child during a painful procedure. That was how impressed the parent was with me with their toddler.

Moments like those I just mentioned every child life specialist and every healthcare professional wants. Even when we have hard days, we need to remember that we are making differences. Even if we can’t see it. We are! People are always watching us. Healthcare professionals, parents and patients. Make that impact a good one, because you only get one shot to do so.


Be the change you want to see in the world.



P.S Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!


Until Next Time!