During Child Life Month in March, hospitals around the world celebrate their teams of Certified Child Life Specialists, who day-in and day-out make it their mission to spread hope to young patients.
Our team at Logan Health Children’s includes two full-time and one PRN Certified Child Life Specialists (Amy Rohyans Stewart, Tia Beck, and Mandi Bergman) as well as a full-time Gaming and Technology Specialist (Max Williams). As a team, Amy, Tia, Mandi, and Max serve children and their families by providing them safe spaces to cope with the stresses of healthcare through play.
What is a Child Life Specialist?
A Certified Child Life Specialist is educated and clinically trained to understand the impacts of illness and injury on infants, children, and youth. Coping with stressful and potentially traumatic events is difficult even for adults, and children often have unique needs related to the feelings of fear, confusion, loss of control, and isolation that are caused by being in a healthcare setting. When a Child Life team member steps in, they help children and their families cope with these everyday realities through evidence-based therapeutic play, often incorporating preparation for procedures and health education into the playtime.
How does this impact our patients?
Through these natural interactions with Child Life Specialists, young patients and their families are able to experience reduced negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and pain, as well as an increased ability to cope with acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. In addition, studies have shown that Child Life services have resulted in cost savings, including reduced length of stay, decreased sedation needs, and improved family satisfaction and overall experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recognizes the positive impact of Child Life Teams, and has endorsed the role of Child Life Specialist.
What does it take to be a Child Life Specialist?
A Certified Child Life Specialist must know how to work hard as well as play hard. The path to becoming certified is rigorous. Applicants must:
- Have volunteer experience
- Achieve certain academic/degree requirements
- Complete a minimum of 600 hours in a highly competitive, unpaid internship
- Pass the Child Life Professional Certification Exam
These standards ensure that Child Life Specialists are truly experts in their field, wholly committed to their work, and experienced with pediatric patients of all ages and conditions.
What is the role of a Gaming & Technology Specialist?
At Logan Health Children’s, we are very grateful to Child’s Play Charity for allowing us to fill this grant-funded position.
Video games have many benefits for young patients, both physical and emotional. Gaming can trigger pain-killing responses in the body, improve decision-making skills, and reduce stress and symptoms related to their condition and environment. Emotionally, gaming also gives children an outlet to make choices, develop leadership traits, and foster social connections with others.
The Child Life Gaming & Technology specialist helps offload the technology and media concerns of staff and helps foster deeper connections with children and teens who may need more diverse and complex entertainment or distraction. By harnessing the power of interactive entertainment, our Gaming & Technology Specialist brings this unique type of healing right to the patient’s bedside.
To all of our Child Life team members, friends, and supporters, we thank you for spreading hope and joy to our young patients every day. Happy Child Life Month!