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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Oh Practicums….

 

Practicum Envelopes

 

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are two hospitals in the area that accept practicum students. UCSF Oakland and UCSF San Francisco. I applied to UCSF Oakland for a practicum at the beginning of Feb. I was so excited about doing this, but that excitement was short lived. I got an email from the practicum coordinator saying that they only accept students who are affiliated with a university due to liability reasons. I was SO BUMMED. Of course I understood the reasoning behind this, but I was still frusterated. I gave myself the rest of the day to be bummed but then had to move on.

The next day I decided I really wanted a practicum and I was just going to apply everywhere. So I found hospitals who accept unaffiliated students in a few states over. I really didn’t want to have to move for a practicum, but I have come to terms that if I want a practicum (and I do) then I am going to have to move. Chances are it will only be for about 3 months…this is doable.

I have applied to Tucson Medical Center so far, and plan to also apply to Rady’s Children’s Hospital, Phoenix Children’s, UC Davis, and Randall Children’s in Oregon. Honestly, I chose places that I knew people who live in the area and places I have been wanting to visit.

My 3 big pieces of advice to you regarding practicums:

  • If you are not currently enrolled in a university make sure the hospitals you are applying to accept unaffiliated students. Call/email the practicum coordinator, introduce yourself first and last name, and ask a few questions.
  • They all have different application deadlines and requirements, be organized. I have a calendar specifically for application deadlines. I also have each envelope made out with a post it on it with the due date.
  • If you can get one, take it! The field is getting more and more competitive and a practicum will only help! I hope I get one!
  • Some feedback I have received regarding my resume is that I need to build it a bit more. I have volunteered at hospitals with the Child Life department for the past 4 years, but I think I need to choose more organizations. So I am going to look into:
    • Make A Wish
    • Ronald McDonald House
    • Local companies that do animal assisted therapy
    • Oncology/bereavement Summer Camps (for patients as well as families/siblings)

Good Luck!

March is Child Life Month!

Wow! We are 2 days into March and so far it has been great.

First, March is Child Life Month, so Happy Child Life Month!

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Second…drum roll please…I GOT INTO GRAD SCHOOL woo hoo!! Honestly did not think this would happen. I applied to one school, one. I do not recommend this at all. So please don’t do it! 🙂

As of Fall 2018 I will be attending the University of Minnesota through an online platform, getting my masters degree in Child and Adolescent Development and Child Life. Essentially it is a dual masters program. This will be the first time they are admitting anyone to this program.

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I was really on the fence about accepting this offer or not, but I’ve decided to just do it. I’ve wanted to pursue Child Life for the past 7 years, and I still do, so I need to focus on that. As of Fall 2018, I will officially be a Golden Gopher. Kinda a weird mascot, but I’ll go with it!

 

My class through UCSB extension – Intro to Child Life- will be coming to a close at the end of this month. It has been an awesome introductory class. I have really enjoyed the instructor as well as collaborating and hearing my peers ideas and thoughts. I highly recommend taking this course to test out the field a bit.

p.s. I got the super cute pin from Adventures In Child Life! Check out her etsy shop!

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My plan for 2018

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I am a planner. I need checklists of things to do and things that are on my mind. With that being said, I of course have a plan for 2018. This will also give you an idea of what you can expect to see me writing about over the next year.

  • I want to look into becoming certified in Infant Massage. Babies in the NICU need soothing touch so I think this would be a great thing to build my resume with. I am looking into a couple different programs
  • I am signed up for my first intro to Child Life class through UCSB Extension. It begins at the beginning of Jan. They offer an online certificate in Child Life. I am starting with just the intro class because I am hoping to get into a grad program that offers child life.
  • I need to submit my grad school applications for Fall 2018.
    • University of Minnesota – I really really really want to get into this program. Send me positive vibes!
    • Arizona State University –  If I choose this route I need to take the remaining required Child Life classes through UCSB extention
      • Applied Behavior Analysis
      • Family and Human Development
      • Social Work – I like this route as well because I can always make a career change if I really want/need to. I would take the Child Life classes through UCSB to qualify for the exam. The tricky part is going to be finding an internship that will work for both social work and Child Life. Not sure if that is possible.
  • I want to begin volunteering at a new hospital, make new connections and just get a fresh start. I have already begun the process through UCSF Mission Bay, I am just waiting for the health clearance.
  • Apply for a Child Life practicum.

 

A little background on me

My journey began about 5 years ago in 2012 when a friend of mine was in school to become a Nurse Practitioner. She had to complete rounds in Child Life and mentioned it to me as something she believed I would be interested in. At first, I brushed it off…working with sick kids? That seemed terrifying and sad. At this point I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I know I wanted to work with kids, and I knew I wanted to be in a medical setting, but I did not want to be a doctor or NP. I played with the idea of entering the field of psychology, social work, teaching, opening my own in home daycare…so many thought of what I could do!

I eventually came back to the idea of Child Life and decided to start volunteering with my local children hospital. I began volunteering there in Feb 2013 trying out the different departments. I began with Art Cart in the Cancer Center where I worked with a child life specialist and set up art activities for the kids and their families in the waiting room. After that, I decided I wanted to try something else and was placed in the waiting room in the outpatient surgery unit. I was really only there for about a month. I had the hardest time navigating that unit. Lastly, I came across the Preschool Playroom, and that is where I would stay for the next few years.

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I loved working in the playroom. It was a playroom specifically for ages 0-3. At first I was volunteering directly with a Certified Child Life Specialist, and I loved her! After talking to her and picking her brain about what a Child Life Specialist does, I realized pursuing a career as a Child Life Specialist was exactly what I wanted to do and I was exactly where I needed to be in order to do that.

The hospital ended up changing things around, and instead of CCLS’s running the playrooms they hired Playroom Coordinators. This was a bummer for me because I really wanted to work alongside a CCLS. I think I went through a total of 3 or 4 playroom coordinators before one of them stuck. I ended up taking a break from volunteering because school became a bit hectic. I went back to volunteering about 6 months later and the woman who was my co volunteer 6 months prior ended up being hired as a Playroom Coordinator. I thought this was awesome! I was so excited because I thought to myself, “This could be my next step! I can get a job as a playroom coordinator”. However, that wasn’t in the cards for me.

After I applied for a position, no one was giving me a call back regarding my application and I became frustrated. Eventually my supervisor put in a good word for me and I got an interview. The interview didn’t go great, it was very awkward and really felt like they were doing it to check me off their list. I decided to move on from the idea of getting a job at this hospital. I hoped they would have more invested in me, having been a loyal volunteer for 4 years. I wasn’t getting the help or guidance in the Child Life field, so I decided to move on, which turns out was for the best!

I have been working for a sports medicine office for about 5 1/2 years as an assistant and I decided it was time to move on from there too – needless to say 2017 has been filled with a ton of changes.

I found an awesome job working with a small company as a behavior specialist. It is new, it is hard, and I wouldn’t call it my dream job, but it is a step in the right direction and I am learning so much! I am very excited to begin this new journey.