Child Life Specialist at Osceola Regional’s New Pediatric and Intensive Care Units
If your child is hospitalized for treatment after a serious illness, injury or medical procedure, you probably feel like there’s so much to worry about besides your child’s health.
One of your main concerns is probably his/her mental well-being, coping during and after is all over?
Luckily, there are specific people who can help with this aspect of your child’s medical care. They are called child life specialists, and here are three things you should know about them.
1) Child life specialists help young patients make sense of their hospital stay
Child life specialists’ main job is to focus on your child’s psychological and social health, says the Child Life Council (CLC), a nonprofit group that sets the training standards for the profession.
A child life specialist’s responsibilities may include:
- Using therapeutic medical play techniques involving toys and medical equipment to ease your child’s fears or anxiety about hospitalization and treatment
- Encouraging your child to join the hospital’s special events and activities such as art, music or pet therapy
- Helping your child understand the medical aspect of his stay—why he is in the hospital, what the different procedures and medications are for, etc.
- Guiding through the admission process
2) Child life specialists are experts in their field
Play therapy may sound fun, but it’s also a skill. To become a child life specialist, you need to have studied a relevant field—human growth and development, education, psychology or something similar—at the college level, says the CLC.
But there’s more to it than that. Certification is required, much like doctors undergo board certification to practice medicine. And, prior to qualify to sit for the certification exam, 600 hours of internship are required.
Certification ensures that child life specialists are well prepared to help children and their families during challenging times.
Some child life specialists focus on a variety of life challenges—like helping families of children with disabilities out in the community—but many can work in hospitals to help pediatric patients cope.
3) Child life specialists provide support for the whole family, too
There are three key ways a child life therapist can help your family, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Engaging in play therapy
- Preparing children for hospitalization
- Providing support and education for the whole family
This last part means that child life specialists are available to help your child’s siblings cope with the emotional effects of hospitalization and medical care.
In fact, part of their job is to work with pretty much everyone on your child’s care team—from doctors, nurses and surgeons to you, your partner and your other children.
Osceola Regional Medical Center’s new Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care Units offer Child Life Specialist services to guide you and your family before, during and after your child’s hospitalization. To learn more about our Pediatric ER and pediatric comprehensive program, call our Consult-A-Nurse® at (800) 447-8206 or visit OsceolaRegional.com.