I have finished week two of my summer practicum and I would highly recommend completing a Child Life Practicum if you can. Here a three reasons why YOU should complete a Child Life Practicum!
1) Opportunities! Many hospitals require a practicum as a prerequisite for a Child Life Internships. It is possible to get an internship without a practicum, so don’t start getting freaked out if you are looking for an internship and haven’t done a practicum yet. But without a practicum, there will be some hospitals that you will not be eligible to apply for. So double check the requirements of your favorite internship sites.
2) Education! I’m not even halfway through my summer practicum and I have already learned so much about Child Life, the hospital setting and working with patients and families. I can only imagine how much more I will have learned as the end of the six weeks. A practicum is all about learning more about Child Life. My practicum consists of observations, journaling and educational modules with related readings. I shadow a certified Child Life Specialist and then we discuss and process every experience and interaction. I think it is in these discussions that I learn the most. The weekly journals allow me another opportunity to process what I am observing and I look forward to looking back at these journal entries for ideas in the future. And finally the educational modules are great learning opportunities. I am majoring in Psychology and not Child Life, so I really appreciate the opportunity to learn about Child Life specific ideas and how concepts such as play, psychological preparation and expressive therapies relate to working with kids in the hospital setting.
3) Relationships! Finally, a practicum is an opportunity to meet child life specialists in the field, to learn from them and to network. I’m guessing that an internship is also a great way to network, but I’m not there yet so I don’t know that from personal experience. But I do know from personal experience that I have gotten to know not only the Child Life Specialists that are my supervisors, but also the other Child Life Specialists in the department. I believe that they will be a great resource as I continue my journey towards becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist.
If you were on the fence about applying for a Child Life Practicum, I hope this helps you out. When looking, don’t just look as hospitals. At the end of the summer I will be working at a summer camp and completing another practicum, although this one will be a non-hospital practicum. (I promise to let you know how that one goes) So look around because there are traditional and non-traditional practicums available.