Once again, I experienced many new things at my site this week. On Wednesday I was in the oncology clinic again and was able to observe a few procedures with a Child Life Specialist (CLS). Every procedure is different, depending on the emotional state of the patient and their family. Some children are very quiet and calm, quiet and scared, or loudly scared, or loudly happy. One girl was very calm and excited to blow bubbles before she received her 'sleepy medicine'. Her dad held her while she became sedated, which seemed to make her and her parents more comfortable. The next patient was quiet and blew bubbles quickly as her mother talked for a long time with me. I think the mother may have needed someone to talk to calm herself down because she just kept talking without needing me to respond very often. Once again, the CLS I was observing told me that if we can calm patients (and their families) before a procedure, then they will wake up calmly and be more calm during procedures in the future. We talked again about a possible project and then I worked on some puzzles with some children. I also attended a long staff meeting on Wednesday. At this meeting, I simply observed and learned many new things. I learned some new things about how a Child Life program works together as a team, each fulfilling certain duties. I talked with my supervisor about my project and she gave me more direction for what I could work on. I hope to start working on my project soon both at my site and at home.
On Friday, I observed a different CLS in a unit I had only been in a few times before. She explained that she only works with patients who she receives referrals for. Apparently, getting referrals from nurses (& etc.) can be a big problem for specialists. Another thing she pointed out was a referral requesting toys to be brought for a patient. She explained that it is frustrating to receive that request because any professional in the hospital can take toys to a child. However, a CLS uses play and toys in various ways to address a range of problems or questions a patient may have and a more specific referral is more helpful.
I was also able to talk with this CLS about her background and education in CL. She explained that she attended a prestigious CL program for her master's degree and that she would be willing to talk more about further education goals with me. She encouraged me to become more educated in CL and to really start pursuing an internship position. Another exciting thing was when she offered to talk to the CL supervisor about possibly offering me a summer internship position. I wasn't even thinking I could do a CL internship without a degree (I'm graduating in the fall) so I found this news very exciting. I know at this point that I want to at least volunteer at the hospital once I complete my hours. Hours of volunteering are often required for internships but more than that, I really enjoy being with children at the hospital. And it wouldn't hurt to keep in contact with the CL program! In addition, I was very excited to hear that CL practicums are hard to find in California so my time at the hospital for my school internship will definitely help my resume! She also explained that I need to be more open to relocate for a position in CL because larger programs offer more training venues and larger cities typically employ more CLS at children's hospitals. I already knew some of the information she shared with me but I learned so much more. I'm excited to work with her again next week so I can continue learning about CL education, various CL programs, and becoming closer to completing some of my career objectives.