Child Life students' frequently asked questions
What is Child Life?
Our Child Life specialists work with kids and families to make their visit to the medical center easier and more comfortable. For more information about the Child Life profession please visit the website for the Child Life Council.
Can I shadow a Child Life specialist?
Due to privacy restrictions and infection control reasons we do not allow individuals to shadow our Child Life staff. Please consider attending our Child Life 101 workshop.
What is the difference between a practicum and an internship?
The practicum is 150 hours of observation of the hospitalized child, working alongside a Child Life specialist. The goal of the practicum experience is to familiarize the student with the environment and to connect what they are learning in the classroom to real life experiences. Practicum offers you time to build your passion and begin to explore your beliefs about the needs of children in the health care system.
The internship is 600 hours of clinical skill development. Our internship is for students whose career goal is to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. This provides the student the opportunity to have a more hands-on approach and learn Child Life skills through experience and with guidance from a certified Child Life specialist.
What is the average salary of a Child Life specialist like?
Click here to view the most recent salary survey results from the Child Life Council webpage.
What are the dates of your student programs?
We offer this comprehensive training opportunity three times a year, beginning in:
However, the specific dates will vary from semester to semester.
How long is your practicum?
Our practicum program is approximately 13-weeks long. This is a 12-hour a week experience.
How long is your internship?
Our internship program is approximately 15-weeks long. This is a 40-hour a week experience.
Do you offer a paid internship?
Our internship is not a paid experience.
Can my practicum hours count toward my 480 hours required by the Child Life Council to be eligible for the certification exam?
No. Practicum hours are different than internship hours. Practicum is a time for observation and knowledge development. Internship is a time to learn how to function independently in the role of a Child Life Specialist.
Should I volunteer, do a practicum and do an internship at the same hospital?
We encourage students to look at a variety of programs. Different hospitals have different atmospheres, specialities, and program designs. Experience in different programs will have a positive impact on your growth as a professional and your personal philosophy of Child Life.
Do you allow your practicum students to apply for your internship?
We do not accept internship applications from students that participated in our practicum program. Completing your practicum and internship experiences at different hospitals is enriching; it gives students a broader view of the field and helps students begin to formulate their personal philosophy of Child Life.
Do I have to complete a practicum in order to apply for your internship?
No, but we highly recommend it. The practicum offers you the opportunity to make sure this environment is for you and offers you some experience with children who have medical needs. Often students who complete a practicum stand out on applications and are more prepared in interviews.
Do I have to be affiliated with a university to participate in your practicum or internship?
Not at all, we accept both affiliated and unaffiliated students into our student programs. For affiliated students, a signed Affiliation Agreement must be in place with your university before your student experience can begin. For unaffiliated (independent) students, you must sign an Individual Education Experience Agreement before your student experience can begin. Both of these are initiated once a student is accepted into our program.
I am considering a career change and I think that Child Life would be a great fit for me. What do I need to do?
First, spend some time exploring the website of our professional organization, the Child Life Council. The most current information on our field is available there. No matter your previous experiences, you would be required to complete the same student pathway as others that are entering the field. That might mean starting to volunteer at a children's hospital, for example. Second, attend our Child Life 101 workshop. Information about that event is on our main student page.
What is the typical schedule for an internship student?
Weekdays during regular business hours (hours may vary slightly depending on the needs of a particular unit). Certain individual rotations may require an intern to work some evenings and/or weekends.
Can I do the internship on the weekends and evenings?
There are only a few rotations offered during the Internship that provide a student opportunity outside of traditional hours. We cannot guarantee placement in any of these rotations. Students must be available for internship during regular weekday business hours.
Can I still work at my full-time job during my internship?
The Internship places the same demands on an individual as a full-time job. It is not recommended that you continue to work at another location during this experience.
Do you hire your interns?
We have hired students who have completed their practicum or intern experiences at Cook Children's, but there is never a guarantee that a student will be hired into our program. The retention rate in this department is high so we don't often have open positions. When positions are open, we always look for the best fit between applicant and position. We often look at personality, experiences in the field, experience with a certain population of patients, work ethic and style, and many other variables when making a hiring decision.
Do you provide housing for your students?
Once accepted into the program, students are responsible for securing their own housing. Many students stay with friends or relatives in the Metroplex. Others use an apartment locator service.
Do your students have assigned parking on hospital property?
Students may park in a hospital parking area for a maximum of $1.00 a day. This is a reduced cost.