2018 comes to a close

Wow! 2018 year has been crazy and amazing all at once. I have a couple things to update you all on about my journey. This year has been amazing. I started an Etsy shop, started grad school, and completed a child life practicum.

First, Grad school……

I have finished my first semester of grad school at the University of Minnesota. I really enjoyed the material and I finally feel respected as a professional and a student by my peers and professors. Grad school (for me) has been such an amazing experience so far.

16ebe4370a72843119ff2d6a60a79a88I took two classes for Fall 2018. Advanced Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive and Biological Development. There were a lot of assignments and readings, but nothing terribly unbearable.  Truthfully, I expected it to be harder, but I found it very straight forward, the professors and my advisor are incredibly. I feel very supported which really helps not stressing out over little things

I started the semester off with working, and school. About half way through the semester I started my Practicum at UC Davis, which is about 2 hours away from me. Doing all 3 was too much and I had to quit my job. However, Practicum and school  together we’re just fine. In fact, I found it really helpful to related my assignments to my practicum.

Now, onto the practicum.

I can’t say enough how amazing this experience was. Before I began the practicum I img_1947didn’t quite understand why this was something internship sites were looking for in potential interns. However, I am so happy I did the practicum because going into a hospital wont be so foreign to me. I now have a better understanding of how to structure my day, which patients I want to make a priority, activities I may want to have in my toolbox, language I will want to use when working with kids, etc.

My practicum was completed at UC David Medical Center in Sacramento. It was 12 weeks long and I was there 2 days a week for 6 hours a day. In the end it came to about 144 hours. Sacramento is about 2 hours away from me. Thankfully my amazing practicum coordinator, Emily, was able to set my schedule that I am at the hospital two days in a row, and I spent the night at a friends place in between.img_1821
The first 6 weeks of my practicum was completed in the out patient pediatric infusion room. So these were kiddos who were coming in for some type of infusion. There was such a range, there were cancer diagnosis, blood disorders, crohn’s disease, etc. The list goes on and on.  A lot of what I saw was port accesses and lumbar punctures. My supervisor was awesome. She sat down with me and did a walk through of what port access prep, and education would look like. So it was pretty cool for me to be in the child’s position and explore the Medkin doll, ask questions and try a port access myself! The doll itself is honestly a bit creepy…but a really cool teaching tool. My supervisor had a therapy dog in the clinic with her. His name was Huggy. This was not only fun for me 🙂 , but also incredibly cool to see how a dog could benefit everyone. He was helpful for the nurses, kids, parents, doctors, basically anyone who came in contact with.

The 2nd 6 weeks was completed in the PICU. What a completely different place in theimg_1645 hospital. First of all, there was a ton of sadness. Which I think was good that I was exposed to this during my practicum. Almost each week I went into the PICU there was a kiddo on that unit who was going to pass at some point. Very sad, but also something I was happy to be exposed to. There was also a lot of traumas; kids in car accidents, random freak accidents that would happen at home or school, and some chronically ill kids who were in the PICU long before I got there and would be there long after me as well. With all that being said, I also loved being in the PICU. I am someone who LOVES constancy. So I had the constancy of seeing the same kids week after week, I was able to build relationships with these kids and see their transformations. I was able to think of fun activities for them do do while in the hospital besides play-doh and coloring. I loved my supervisor in the PICU. She was amazing in challenging me to think about the relevant theories regarding a patient. I know I will find this helpful when it comes to answering interview questions. She taught me how to make an IV teddy and how this could be used for educating the child on the IV.  We also went through medical play sessions with patients and I was able to observe how she would clear up misconceptions regarding medical equipment.

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The other thing I loved about being in the PICU is all the special events I got to see and how much joy they bring to everyone in the hospital. While I was there we had a superhero visit, Santa visit, adopt a balloon dog, and a winter workshop. The kids loved these events, and it was also fun to see the nurses get excited to see Santa walking the halls!

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Every week me and my co-practicum student would meet with Emily, the education coordinator, and we would go over readings, talk about experiences we had, questions, concerns, etc. I loved these meetings. Being able to talk to more people who could relate to what I was experiencing was so helpful! I felt so safe talking about my experiences and what I was feeling when witnessing something for the first time. Without these two people the practicum wouldn’t have been the same.

img_2437  I had weekly assignments that consisted of readings, a journal, and write ups such as medical play/therapeutic play chart notes, clinical observations. The journals would be about my day, but I would also incorporate my readings into the journals and how I can apply what I am reading into practice and observation. We also had to do a case study presentation to the child life team. Man, this was stressful. During my presentation I started off pretty well, and then I got to the last 5minutes, and I absolutely blacked out. I have no idea what I said or how I said it. I was told that it wasn’t noticeable, but I still hate that it happened. I know I will have another presentation for my internship, so I might as well figure it out now!

I really cant say enough about my practicum experience. It was amazing. I was so sad to leave because I loved being in the hospital so much! The entire child life team at UC Davis was amazing. I loved how they truly cared for one another wellbeing, and took self care very seriously. They were so helpful and supportive of one another. I hope I will be part of an amazing team like this some day.

Until my internship, I am going to go back to volunteering at UCSF. I want to stay in the  hospital environment and apply what I was learning. I want to gain as much experience as I can before I begin my next step.

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Drum roll please…..

I secured myself a practicum!!!!

On Tuesday June 26th I drove about 2 hours north for an interview at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. It was a group interview and honestly I was pretty nervous. Up until this point I had done 6 phone int58ac5444e9a9aerviews. All of the practicums were out of state, so phone interviews were the best route. None of those phone interviews went well. They were awkward, I had a hard time playing off the interviewers reactions since I was unable to see them, and I feel like it’s just very hard to sell yourself over the phone.

So although the interview at UC Davis was 2 hours away I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to do an in person interview. It was a group interview, so it was me plus 3 other candidates interviewing with 3 Child Life Specialists. Now, this is the first time UC Davis is offering a practicum – I was completely unaware of this – so I really was only up against 3 other girls. I didn’t have to try to compete against a ton of other people. This absolutely worked in my favor.

We were asked 5 questions:

  • What is it about UC Davis that made you apply here as opposed to another hospital?
  • What is your experience like and how does it set you apart from the rest of the candidates?
  • In what area do you think you can improve your work with children?
  • What is your elevator speech for what a Certified Child Life Specialist does?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

I walked away from the group interview feeling great. I was able to listen to the other candidates responses to the questions that were asked, and what each of their experiences with kids was like. In all honesty, I felt like I was truly one of the more qualified candidates. After the interview, the current Child Life interns at UC Davis came to pick the 4 of us up and took us on a quick tour of the floors. This was pretty cool because we got to pick the brains of two current interns and it got us excited to see where we may complete our practicum.

About a week later I got a call from a woman named Emily at UC Davis and she offered me a spot – they had two spots to give! I was thrilled, I just wanted to scream, but at the same time I was speechless. I have been waiting for this for so long and I got the break I needed! I finally feel like I am on the right track and making really good progress in my career.

My practicum will begin in October 2018, and go through December 2018. It will be about 12 hours a week, 2 days a week. The Child Life team is still figuring out logistics but I will certainly be documenting my experiences! It sounds like we will do two rotations one in the infusion center and one in the PICU. We will have assignments to complete while there such as presenting a case study, as well as readings. I am really excited that I will be at the hospital during the holidays! I am sure I will have a ton of fun activities to show everyone.

This is going to sound a bit corny but, I believe in signs. The week before my interview I had Chinese food and received these TWO fortunes in one cookie: I took them as a sign. Dont give up!

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So, how did I do it?

I think a lot of it was luck. I know this isn’t helpful, but I wasn’t up against many other candidates.

I prepared for the interview! I have a list of interview questions that I have typed up, that I reviewed my answered for so I knew what to talk about. If you want it, let me know and I will send it along!

My experience. I know this got me ahead of others. We all have babysitting, nannying, and a genuine love for children. However, I have 5 years volunteer experience in a hospital setting, and I spent the last 7 months working one on one with a child as a behavior specialist in his school. I worked with his school team, healthcare providers, and blended family. I also spent time at an Oncology camp as a camp counselor. This 100% put me ahead because I was able to reference these experiences of how I am more prepared than others for this practicum.

I went in very confident! I felt good about myself, I got myself a coffee on the drive there, I did my make up, got a blow out that morning, and was really just feeling genuinely good about myself.

And if all else fails….Fake it till you make it!!! If you pretend you know what you are doing, people will believe you actually know what you’re doing and will put confidence in you! I do this often unfortunately, but it works!

GOOD LUCK!!!