March is Child Life Month, a month dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the child life profession and the dedication and commitment that they show to their patients each and every day.
Child Life Specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome a hospitalization or other challenging event. They can help patients and their families deal with the stresses of being hospitalized or having a serious illness.
Child Life Specialists wear many hats. Here are just a few of the different ways they can provide psychosocial and emotional support to pediatric patients:
- Explaining procedures, treatments and diagnoses to patients, siblings and families using age-appropriate language and medical play
- Use distraction during procedures to make a child feel safer, more relaxed and in less pain
- Coordinate special events and parties to help normalize the hospital or clinic experience
- Help restore a child's sense of control and allow them to have fun, despite their illness
- Provide support during a child's death or a death of child's loved one. This involves aiding in memory making activities to promote positive coping.
Child Life Specialists can also prepare children and teens for surgery. Pre-Surgery tours are currently available at EIRMC and the best part”they're free! Reservations are required. Please call 227-2778 to schedule a tour.
Sometimes siblings of babies in the NICU need support. Child Life Specialist can offer one on one in person, or skype, sessions with siblings, as well as a monthly class, to promote positive coping and offering education about their baby brother or sister.
The Child Life Specialists at EIRMC work as members of a multidisciplinary team in all areas of the hospital where children or teens can be found. Child life specialists are also available to meet the needs of children of adult patients.
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Contributed by EIRMC's Child Life Specialists: Sydney Lewis and Diana Moll
Sydney attended Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA and majored in Child Life. She completed her 600 hour internship at Mercy Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa.
Diana attended Mt. Mary University in Milwaukee, WI and completed her 600 internship for Child Life at The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.