Fabulous Find Friday: Okee in Medical Imaging

I recently discovered a fabulous app that I want to share with you all, Okee in Medical Imaging. Medical Imaging is one of the hospital departments that the majority of patients interact with since x-rays, CTs and MRIs are often the first step when assessing and diagnosing a patient. As a Child Life Specialist in Medical Imaging, my job is to prep patients for imaging studies and then help them cope during those procedures. We have many patients who are scared of x-rays and CTs, although nothing touches them or hurts during these pictures. My role is to talk to the patients about what is going to happen and help them realize that it won’t hurt, but I have limited time in the outpatient setting to do this. Today’s Fabulous Find Friday was something I found that I want to encourage parents/caregivers and other Child Life Specialists to use to educate and prepare patients for an upcoming trip to Medical Imaging.

This fabulous app is called Okee in Medical Imaging. Okee was created by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne to help parents prepare their children for visiting medical imaging through educational videos and interactive games. These games encourage patients to practice skills like holding still and taking deep breaths. The app also includes real pictures of what the “cameras” might look like. Although this app was designed specifically with the Royal Children’s Hospital in mind, the lessons it teaches patients and it’s ability to normalize medical imaging procedures applicable to everyone.

Okee in Medical Imaging is available in the App Store and also on Google Play.


Getting your Masters

I passed the Child Life certification exam in March 2018 and began grad school in August 2018. One question that I often get is why get my masters when I’m already certified and working as a Child Life Specialist?

The main reason I went back to school is that I’m a strong supporter of continuing education. So although I’ve reached the goal of working as a Certified Child Life Specialist, I don’t think that I’m done learning. In fact, I’m nowhere near done learning! A masters program seemed like the natural step, especially considering that my undergrad was in Psychology versus Child Life. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on and learning more about the field of Child Life, such as completing the University of California Santa Barbara’s Child Life Certificate and attending many regional and national conferences. But getting my Masters in Child Development with a concentration in Child Life offers me a stronger foundation in a blend of child development and pediatric support in the healthcare setting.

I also was excited to start my program while I am working in the field because I think that it gives me a unique perspective. When I was a student and learned about child development or child life theory and practice, it was theoretical. I could imagine how it would be used or read research about how preparation and medical play supports a patient’s coping. Now that I am working in the field, I see these thing every day. When I learn something new about child development, I can recognize that in my patients at work the following day. When we discuss medical play or developmentally appropriate preparation, I have a variety of examples to call upon where a patient coped well or didn’t cope at all with the stressful situation. I have seen times when distraction works perfectly and supports a patient’s coping, and I have also seen times when the patient refused to cope and no amount of distraction was successful.

If you are debating whether to return to school or not, I highly recommend it! Learning more about the child development and the field can only help you grow as an individual and as a professional.

The Association of Child Life Processionals offers a listing of Child Life Academic Programs to help you get started.

Fabulous Find Friday: Superhero Training School

What is the hospital? What’s it like to stay there when going through treatment? For the kids who are facing a new diagnosis or upcoming treatment in a new hospital, how do you explain what they will encounter or go through? Do you use the big scary words or translate the experiences into something that the kids will understand? Superhero Training School to the rescue!

Superhero Training School is a book written for kids that likens the hospital experience  to being at Superhero Training School. The author wrote this book when his young son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he used the superhero metaphors to explain the new experiences that his son would encounter in the hospital.

Visit https://superherotrainingschool.org/ to order your copy of Superhero Training School.

superhero training school

Fabulous Find Friday: Patient Puppets

Today’s Fabulous Find is Patient Puppets.  It can be really hard to find the right doll to use for procedural teaching. Most Child Life Specialists know the feeling of ordering dolls that don’t come as pictured online and then trying to adapt to use them to demonstrate medical procedures for patients. Patient Puppets has these dolls for you! Besides offering a variety of customizable dolls, Patient Puppets also has child sized and table top models of medical items.  Patient Puppets also will customize dolls for whatever you need.

Book Review: Surgery Day

I recently got the chance to check out Surgery Day by Julie Kaderabek and Laura Wolfe and I loved it! Using non-threatening language, Surgery Day walks children through the steps of their upcoming surgery. With developmentally appropriate language, Surgery Day describes the different medical equipment and experiences that will encounter in the hospital and gives children accurate information to prepare them for their surgery. Research shows that children cope better with new experiences if they are given the time and information to prepare for success. Surgery Day allows parents and caregivers to prepare their children for the new and often intimidating experience of surgery.

Visit 2 RNs to check out Surgery Day and learn more about the talented authors that created this book.


Fabulous Find Fridays: When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness

It’s hard to find books for kids about illness, even harder to find age appropriate journals. When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness by Marge Heegard is a great journal for school age kids to use when they are processing and working on coping with a loved one’s diagnosis. It gives enough direction that you don’t need to be a therapist or a Child Life Specialist to guide a child in their journey through this book, but the book can be a great partner for Child Life Specialists during their support sessions for children. The books pages are filled with open spaces where a child is encouraged to express their feelings and thoughts about a special someone’s serious illness.


Fabulous Find Friday: Monkey in My Chair

When kids are in the hospital, they are forced to miss many days of school, sometimes even months. Although kids tend to complain about going to school, it is a part of their normal routine. When children are hospitalized, school is an important part of the normalization process. Doing weekly assignments, the children can maintain a schedule similar to their classmates and the homework also serves as a conversation starter for medical staff.

Although hospital teachers do a great job of bringing school into the hospital, they can’t bring the classroom experience and often that is what children miss the most. While their classmates are having fun together at recess or going on field trips, the patient is stuck in a hospital room. This is where Monkey in My Chair comes in. Monkey in My Chair is a program that sends a monkey to the child’s school to sit in their chair. This monkey serves to remind the members of the class that although their classmate is sick and missing school, they are still a part of the class. Teachers take pictures of what the monkey is up to at school and send them to the patient so that the patient can feel included in the class’s activities.

Visit this link to learn more about Monkey in My Chair; http://www.monkeyinmychair.org/program

Fabulous Find Friday: Playmakers

For those of you in the New England area, I’m sure you know of the Life is Good clothing company. For those of you that have not heard of Life is Good, they are a clothing company that is focused on sharing optimism and giving back to the community. One of the ways that they give back is through their Playmaker Initiative.

Child Life Specialists are Playmakers! Life is Good defines a playmaker as “someone who provides the power of optimism to children who desperately need it.” Check out their site to learn more about becoming a playmaker; http://content.lifeisgood.com/kidsfoundation/what-we-do/become-a-playmaker/



Fabulous Find Friday: CPS Certification

I want to start by saying that while I have not completed this training yet, I have heard good things and it is on my list of future certifications that I would like to get. Today’s Fabulous Find Friday is National Child Passenger Safety Certification.

CPS certification is a training focused on teaching parents and professionals how to safely install and use a child’s car seat. With the CPS training, you will learn how to install seats, provide community presentations and safety check already installed car seats.

As Child Life Specialists, this is a helpful training to attend. We often are in a position where we work with parents and children who are driving in car. And many times, parents have gotten new car seats for their child to use on the way home from the hospital, so what better support to offer than to help the parent install the child’s car seat?

Fabulous Find Friday: STAR Institute

The STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder is based in Colorado but their website offers research and resources for people everywhere.

STAR’s website offers educationresearch and a variety of resources for professionals and families who want to learn more about SPD. As Child Life Specialists, we often encounter kids in the hospital with Sensory Processing Disorder. Especially with all the varying stimuli that are present in the hospital, it’s important for professionals to understand SPD and learn how to best support their patients. The STAR Institute is a great place to get started.