Why Is a Child Life Practicum Important?

Over the past couple of weeks (and beyond) I have had people ask me one of two questions.

  1. What is a Child Life Practicum?
  2. Why do you need this experience/why is it important?

What is a child life practicum?

A Child Life Practicum is the step before a student can secure an internship. During this experience one observes Certified Child Life Specialist in a number of settings. For me, I observed Child Life in the following: Pediatrics, PICU, Emergency room, Oncology, Hematology and Adult ICU and more! Each of these areas showed me how Child Life prepares children for a particular procedure, proper developmental distractions and helps the child cope in a safe way. For example, I observed a Child Life Specialist explain an IV through medical play (the Child Life Specialists used Winnie the Pooh to explain the procedure). Once the child was able to grasp the concept of what was taking place, the patient then explained to the Child Life Specialist step by step what was going to happen when they received their IV.

Why do you need this experience/why is it important?

As of now, the Child Life Council does not require that you complete a practicum, but it is VERY important that you try and secure one. Not only will you learn a great deal, but it will make your Child Life internship applications stand out (Keeping my fingers crossed for the future!).

This experience is important because, Child Life Practicum students begin to increase their knowledge of basic Child Life skills related to play, developmental assessment, and mixing Child Life theory into interventions with infants, children, teens and families. Like the example I gave earlier, students are given the opportunity to observe Child Life Specialist in a hospital setting and in circumstances the student may have only read about previously. Having this amazing opportunity shows the individual if they are in the proper field. While volunteering sheds a little light on Child Life and what this team’s role is within the hospital, a practicum sets the stage for future plans, expectations and for an internship.

Until next time!


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