This month we are shining a big bright light on a group of medical professionals that many have never heard of – child life specialists. These trained healthcare professionals are a key part of the multidisciplinary medical team serving pediatric patients. Armed with extensive knowledge of child development, they meet age-specific developmental, social and emotional pediatric needs through a patient- and family-centered care approach. Child life specialists are dedicated to preserving normalcy, minimizing fear and anxiety, and enhancing coping skills in children facing an unfamiliar and often overwhelming healthcare experience. Through careful assessment of patients and families they develop individualized intervention plans that consist of everything from play-based education, preparation for procedures, diagnosis teachings, distraction and more.
Services and interventions provided by child life have been shown to aid in reducing the length of hospital stays, the need for sedation, and in strengthening trust between patients, families and healthcare providers. They turn confusion and chaos into clarity, scary into okay, boring into fun, and frowns into smiles.
The theories and modalities behind child life are woven into the very fabric of The Standish Foundation. Six years ago, we were founded by certified child life specialist Andy Standish, and we are now proud that our multidisciplinary advisory council boasts a number of notable child lifers. (Now’s the time where we start a drum roll with our fingers and say “would the following amazing people please stand up!?”) We’d like to recognize and thank Laura Gaynard, Deb Vilas, Cinda MacDonald, Maria Fatima Garcia-Lorenzo, Natalie Fyles, Khatuna Dolidze, Susan Clancey, and María Fernanda Busqueta Mendoza. YOU ARE AMAZING!
If you know a child life specialist, give them a hug, a high-five, or maybe even a social media shout out!
To read more about child life, visit the Association for Child Life Professionals website. If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate your child life specialist colleagues, take a look at these activities. Please comment below to share your experience with child life!