What Is a Child Life Practicum? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Those wishing to be a part of a child life parcticum may have to provide proof of certain vaccinations to ensure they are in good health.
Those wishing to be a part of a child life parcticum may have to provide proof of certain vaccinations to ensure they are in good health.

A child life practicum provides opportunities for students to participate in planning services for hospitalized children and teens. Specialists in child life study psychology, child development, family dynamics, and related subjects so they can provide critical support to pediatric patients. These patients may be especially afraid or confused, or could need psychological services, opportunities to interact with other children, and other enrichment activities. To become a licensed provider in this field, it may be necessary to complete a practicum.

Some hospitals run programs for people who need to complete a child life practicum that requires working with hospitalized children.
Some hospitals run programs for people who need to complete a child life practicum that requires working with hospitalized children.

Programs are held at specific hospitals which agree to accept interns and people who need practicum hours. Educational institutions may publish a list of partner hospitals for students preparing to apply for field experience. An individual college or university typically has its own hours requirement, and professional organizations may require additional hours. Students preparing for work in this profession may want to check the latest guidelines to see what kinds of educational credentials they need.

Facility coordinators arrange several opportunities at a child life practicum. Workshops, seminars, and lectures provide education from people working in the field, and students may also be involved in administrative support like charting, planning activities, and developing educational materials for families. They also participate in direct patient care, which involves meeting with patients and families to identify needs and develop appropriate interventions. The child life practicum can include evaluations from supervisors and people who interact with the student, providing feedback on performance in the program.

This provides work experience in the child life field under the supervision of experienced practitioners. In a practicum, a student will have an opportunity to turn to mentors for guidance and assistance and may have a chance to rotate through several hospital departments to learn more about specific medical challenges children may encounter. The number of hours in a child life practicum can vary, but are usually between 50 and 150.

There may be some requirements from the hospital for participants in a child life practicum. They may need to provide transcripts, letters of recommendation, proof of vaccination, and evidence of a clean criminal record. It may also be necessary to be enrolled in school and making progress towards a degree. Hospitals typically have professional standards they expect trainees to meet while taking advantage of educational opportunities in their facilities. They may request that people read a manual and sign documents to indicate that they understand the terms and conditions of their participation.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Those wishing to be a part of a child life parcticum may have to provide proof of certain vaccinations to ensure they are in good health.
      Those wishing to be a part of a child life parcticum may have to provide proof of certain vaccinations to ensure they are in good health.
    • Some hospitals run programs for people who need to complete a child life practicum that requires working with hospitalized children.
      Some hospitals run programs for people who need to complete a child life practicum that requires working with hospitalized children.