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A Day in the Life of a Child Life Specialist

Published on March 06, 2017

March is Child Life Month! The goal is to raise awareness about the child life profession and share how child life specialists can help parents, siblings and patients cope with traumatic life events. In honor of this month, our very own child life specialist, Jamie, shares his experience. Follow Jamie through a day on the job!

10:00 am

Today’s the day. Follow me on a day in the life of a Child Life Specialist to celebrate Child Life Month! My name is Jamie and I have been a child life specialist for three and half years now. Growing up, my best friend was diagnosed with cancer and he was treated at an Advocate hospital. That’s what led me to become interested in working in pediatrics and, ultimately, I found that child life was the best fit for me.

Today my day is starting at 10 am. I just rolled out of bed. And I know what you’re thinking… “Must be nice.” But, before you get too jealous—I worked until 1 am last night. I’m starting off my day by going for a run in our beautiful city.

Chicago Skyline

Noon

Having my mornings free allows me to work on other projects. Today, I’m doing work for Walk It Out For Andrew, a non-profit I started with my friends. This organization fully funds the teen hematology and oncology support groups at Advocate Children’s Hospital on both the Oak Lawn and Park Ridge campuses.

Walk It Out For Andrew

2:00 pm

It’s now 2 pm and I’m arriving at the Park Ridge campus to start my day. Before I begin my clinical day, I must attend to some administrative duties. One of my jobs is to coordinate in-kind donations, so I’m working on returning a few calls to donors. The generosity of our community continues to inspire me every day.

Jamie On The Phone

I also made sure to find time for my large iced coffee, as I prepare for a busy 10 hour shift.

Iced Coffee

3:00 pm

It’s time to head down to the Emergency Department (ED), where I’ll be stationed for the remainder of my shift. It’s already been a very busy day and my fellow ED staff have greeted me with smiles, filling me in on current needs.

Here in the pediatric ED, our amazing nurses decorate each room door to make the environment a more welcoming and fun place. I must say, my personal favorite is the Ninja Turtles room.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

4:00 pm

One of my patients turns 10 years old today! No one should have to spend their birthday in the hospital, but, unfortunately, there are instances when it is necessary. We like to acknowledge every birthday in the hospital by presenting the patient with a personal gift while the staff sings happy birthday. Our nurses have great singing voices!

Child Life Gift Giving

6:00 pm

My schedule differs day by day, but here are just a few things that I see on a daily basis:

  • Although I am based in the ED, once my child life co-workers leave for the evening, I’m responsible for carrying our pager so I’m able to help out in other areas. The inpatient floor just paged, so I’m on my way up to assist them with a patient.

Skypager

  • One of my patients just got the word that he is going to be admitted, which can be very scary. Luckily, we have organizations that donate these blankets, so each patient can be a little more comfortable during their stay. He is much happier when I tell him about all the fun things to look forward to on the floor and present him with his cool new blanket.

Blanket

  • Having surgery can be scary and confusing for kids. That’s why I provide developmentally appropriate education about an upcoming appendectomy to one of my patients. I allow him to smell our flavored anesthesia masks (strawberry and bubble gum), and then we look at a picture of the GI system together to see if he can identify where the appendix is located.

insta_appendix

1:00 am

Wow, what a shift! It was crazy busy, but our team was able to work together to address the high volume of patients and help the kids feel better. Shout out to all of our amazing ED nurses, techs, nurse practioners, doctors and secretaries!

It’s now almost 1 am and after a busy shift, and I am ready to go home and relax. Goodnight, Advocate Children’s Hospital. See you tomorrow!Jamie Selfie