Friday, August 28, 2015

Child Life in Radiology

The Role of a Child Life Specialist in a Pediatric Radiology Department

Is your hospital looking into starting a program in the radiology department? Are you looking for solid support to offer administration? Check out this research article published by Pediatric Radiology and authored by Kristen McGee on the role and benefits of a CCLS in radiology. 

Full Article Here

Child life programming is predominantly developed in inpatient areas throughout major pediatric hospitals. However, the trend toward outpatient services has increased the need for facilities to develop child life positions to assist in the teaching demands of patients and families coming in for routine hospital visits. Since radiology is often the first experience for families, but not the last, it is essential to involve them in a positive experience. Imaging facilities serving pediatric patients are currently developing or considering child life programs. A certified child life specialist (CCLS) is committed to developing programming that enhances the child’s understanding and involvement in their medical experience. This paper provides an outline of the responsibilities and areas of expertise of the CCLS in a pediatric radiology department. The reviewed program is based on, but not limited, to fluoroscopy.

When attending the FACLP Conference in September 2014 in Miami, FL, I attended a workshop reviewing Wolfson Children's Hospital's MR-I am Ready! program, which is a pilot program to promote non-sedated MRIs. Check out more information about their program here

Share your story of starting a program in a particular department with us and we may share your story with all of our readers! 

Don't forget to follow us at Instagram and Twitter @childlifeblog! 


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Child Life in the Classroom: Year 2

Well, it's that time of the year again. 

Time to:
Clean my room 
Label everything 
Reorganize my art supplies 
Stock up my classroom library
Send out parent letters
Write some lesson plans
Finally get to meet my new kiddos tomorrow! 

It's taken me a while to get truly excited about teaching for another year. (If I'm being totally honest, I am still not there yet.)
BUT, I work with some wonderful ladies who are truly role models to me. They are a constant source of encouragement and I treasure my friendship with them. 

On the other hand... If I don't keep positivity on the forefront of my mind, feelings of failure in my Child Life journey set in. 

But I know that I am supposed to teach for one more year- at least for now. I am going to finish my Masters degree in May 2016. And then, I shall start the hard core application process for full time jobs. 

So until then, I have 10 new three year olds bursting with excitement to come to preschool. And I get a whole year to invest in them, teach them, support them, and watch them grow! 

Being a Child Life Specialist in the classroom has it's perks. For one, I know the importance of exploratory play and sensory play. I think even one of my co workers is going to explore with a water bin this year! 

I plan on upping my game as far as my sensory bins go and incorporating a lot more math and science activities to our play! 

My Open House treats for my kiddos! 

New this year: Calm Down Basket for all my kiddos to learn how to be in control of their own body and emotions. 

Meet Oliver. He's our class pet! 

My door hanger! I made it all by myself! 

Check out my Child Life in the Classroom posts from last year: 

I know that several of our followers are also preschool teachers, and I would love to hear from y'all! What does your classroom look like? What are some of your favorite activities? 


P.S. Follow me (mostly) on Twitter @childlifeblog as I try to update y'all on my journey! 
Follow Sydney (mostly) on Instagram @childlifeblog as she keeps us update on Child Life in the Hospital! 

Or sign up to receive email updates from us so you never miss a post! 

P.S.S. Don't forget to sign up for FACLP 2015 in Jacksonville, FL! You can be a student or professional to go! We'd love to see you there! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Embrace the Competition and Thrive!

If you haven't realized it yet, the field of child life is competitive
If you are starting out as a student, programs that specify in Child Life may not exist in your state. You may have to relocate. 

If you are looking to volunteer at a children's hospital, you may have to drive a few hours to reach one. 

If you are applying for practicums, go ahead and realize that you may have to move. 

If you are preparing for internships, you are almost 100% going to have to move to a new city or new state. You may even have to travel to do the interviews. Just go ahead and look at all of the positives this will bring in your life and not the burdens. 

Finally, if you are applying for jobs... You are probably going to have to move. Unless you want to wait it out and pray that an instate job opens up for you. 

This is just one part of the job that stresses people out or deters them for even trying in the first place. Being a Child Life Specialist is a calling. It's a passion. You either have it - or you don't. If you have it, these things won't scare you away. 

The best thing you can do is to find any opportunity to volunteer with children, especially medically fragile children. Volunteer at the hospital, camps, hospice, etc. Make your resume so compact that you think it is impossible to condense to one page! 

This will help you to be competitive when applying for all of the above. All of these experiences will also help boost your confidence! Confidence is key when you get into the interviewing phase and will help you be able to brag on yourself. 

Even though all of these things can be intimidating, you got this! We believe in you! Embrace the passion and calling of being a Child Life Specialist and let it drive you to success. Or as A Cinderella Story, one of my favorite movies quotes, "Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."  

Good luck! 
This blog was written as a suggestion from a reader. We love suggestions! Let us know what you think in a comment! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Figuring Out Life

Have you ever wondered if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing? 
Have you thought that maybe you should be doing something else or tried something different? 

I don't know about you, but for me, this stage in my life has been kind of like the limbo. I feel like the bar keeps getting lower and lower, and it's about to knock me to my knees.

For the last 6 or 7 years of my life, I have dreamt of being a Child Life Specialist. I did my research, applied to the right schools, studied hard, volunteered excessively, and scored an internship. I did the best I could to have a kick butt resume and to soak in every ounce of information during my internship. After that, I worried over the certification exam and studied by booty off for that. Last year, I passed the certification exam! 

Fast forward one year later... Where am I? 

I am not employed as a Child Life Specialist. 

However, my wonderful friend, Sydney, daily reminds me that I am in graduate school and teaching preschool. 

She reminds me that I don't need to compare myself to others, and that I am doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to graduate school. I wanted to further my education. I needed that for me. 

But somehow in the midst of reading about everyone else's jobs and child life stories, I get lost. I get down. I allow feelings of failure to creep into my mind. 

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever allow yourself to compare yourself to other people? Do you see your nursing friends starting jobs or teacher friends starting jobs? Do you see girls who were in school behind you get the Child Life job? Cause I do. 

Today I found a book called The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. It's geared toward school aged children and it addresses issues of self esteem, positivity, bullying, and being kind. In the book, the bus driver, Joy, provides five rules to staying positive and overcoming challenges.

(Even though the book is for kids, 
it has a strong message that I think we can all learn from.)

My favorite part of the story is when Joy tells George, the main character in the book, that he has the power to shut the door of his bus on anyone who may try to bully him or anyone who is negative. 

Think about that. You have the power to shut the door to negativity, to frustrations, to failures. You have the power to change the way you view a situation. 

You have the power to feel excited for your friends who are getting practicums, internships, and jobs without it bursting your bubble and making you feel like a failure. 

So whether or not you are where you think you should be in life, you, my friend, are not a failure. Trust me. Everything in life happens for a reason. 

Keep trucking along. If you are passionate about something, I promise you will be successful. Don't give up and don't lose sight of your dreams, your ambitions, and your goals. 
And remember, your dreams aren't your friends dreams. Your ambitions aren't my ambitions. You goals aren't your classmate's goals. And that my friend is the beauty of it. 

I am rooting for you. 
And if all else fails, do what I like to do. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

VCUG tips!

VCUG 9:00 AM...I see it staring at me in my agenda.

For me, the voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is one of the most intimidating procedures that I take part in as a Child Life Specialist. Some go awesome and others, simply do not. I thought I would just share a few of the tips that work for me, and I would love to hear some of your tips in the comments (I always like to add to my bag of tricks).

1. Pre-call- 
This is the most important step in my opinion. No one knows their child better than their parents. Calling the parents the day before, explaining your role, clarifying the procedure, and answering their questions can give you an insight to how the procedure is going to go. (If your radiology department generally does this call, then you can ask for this information from them.)

2. Prep

Once you meet and assess each child, you can decide if they would benefit from prepping before the procedure or if stress point preparation will work best. In my prep box, put together by my genius co-worker, we have:
  • a shadow buddy with a hole cut where the catheter goes in
  • sample jelly
  • brown soap (be careful with this as it can stain)
  • the catheter
  • the pad that the child will be laying on. 
On our iPad we have a prep book that includes pictures of the room, the bed, the TV screen, and the big camera. The most important part of any prep is giving the child choices (do you want to look at my iPad or an I Spy book) and jobs (frog legs, pencil legs, staying still like a statue) to do throughout the exam.

3. Getting kids to relax their muscles. To get kids to understand what relax their muscles means I like to use this trick. Make one of your hands into a fist; squeeze your hand shut as tight as you can. Now, with your other hand, try to push a finger in-between the fingers making the fist. It’s not easy, is it!! Next, loosely hold your hand in a fist (your muscles are more relaxed this way). See if your finger fits between more easily this way. 

Then we talk about way to get them to relax most include deep breathing some kids like to blow bubbles, or blow on a pinwheel and other kids just like to take deep breaths and maybe even sing. 

4. Pocket Pond app
If you have never seen a VCUG before, the last step is getting the child to void the contrast onto the table. This can be embarrassing to older children, and confusing to recently potty-trained kids. My favorite app is called Pocket Pond. It's essentially a pond with fish, but when you touch the screen the water moves and makes a splashing sound. The splashing sound can aid the child to void. (Extra tip: *you can also have one of the technologists pour some warm water over the child, or run water into the sink*)

5. Kool-aid powder-
Now this trick works really well, but you have to clear it first with your radiology team since it can make a bit of a mess. Pouring a bit of Kool-aid powder (I recommend green or blue) on the pad where the child is going to eventually void the contrast on can turn urinating into a game. Who doesn't think green or blue pee is cool?

6. Be Prepared for Anything- Obviously go into each procedure with a positive attitude, but if none of your interventions are working, don't beat yourself up. This is a very invasive procedure and not all of them are going to be picture perfect. If your patient screams the whole time it is okay, just keep saying calming, caring words and provide praise and a prize at the end. You did your best and so did they!

7.Tips from Caroline-
I was once called for a VCUG at the last minute. There was no time for preparation or developing a coping plan. When I walked in the door, the parents were holding the child down on the table, and she was crying. Using a calm tone and my internship supervisor's fantastic idea of calling it a balloon, we supported the 6-year-old through the procedure. We watched the "balloon" aka the bladder fill up on the ultrasound machine. By focusing on the balloon, it took the attention away from the fact that she felt like everyone was looking at her. When it came time for her to urinate on the table, we empowered her to choose who she wanted to stay by the table (with the exception of the tech). We then worked to "push the air out of the balloon." Although there were intermittent tears, she coped well with the procedure, and hopefully we modeled to the parents that holding their daughter down was not necessary to complete the procedure!

               Please leave your tips and tricks for VCUG's in the  comments below! I can't wait to try them out!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

FACLP Conference 2015

Remember last year, when Caroline went to FACLP and Sydney went Salt Lake for a child life conference? If you don't check out this post!

Well, this year we are both going to FACLP, which means that Sydney is flying to Florida! 

What's even more exciting is that we were chosen to present a workshop at conference! 

If you have no idea what we are talking about, FACLP stands for the Florida Association of Child Life Professionals. And to answer your first question, no you don't have to be from Florida to join. To answer your second question, yes, it's free to be a member! 

Check out their website here for more information. 

This year's conference is September 12-13, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. Registration is $200, but if you are a student (like Caroline) it's only $150! 

This will be Sydney's second year attending and Caroline's third year. Every year it is very refreshing to be submersed with fellow child lifers and be reminded that we aren't the only ones passionate about this field. 

The conference consists of workshops throughout the two days, networking opportunities with Child Life Specialists from all over the country, a resource store with all types of goodies, yummy food, and much more! 

Our workshop is specifically geared towards students who are applying for internships, interviewing for internships, planning on doing one of those in the future or even applying for jobs. When we started thinking about writing up a workshop proposal, we realized that our most viewed blogs are about these topics:

Child Life Interview Tips
Dressing Professionally

Questions to Ask during an Interview
Offer Day Advice
You Got the Internship, Now What?

Our session is all about how to land an internship. We will cover the basics of resume, cover letter, internship application, and organizing your application packets. 
We will talk about what to wear during an interview, interview pointers, and questions to ask the hospitals! 
Finally, we will also talk a little bit more openly about handling the stress of offer day and how to decline/accept offers. 

It will be a full hour of fun and valuable information! We would love to meet some of you there! The best thing about this conference is that they are always so welcoming of students! They truly value the concept of investing in new professionals, and that is a rare commodity these days. 

Right now registration is open, but on August 14th, the early bird price is gone! So sign up now. Find some buddies to go with! Make a weekend of it; we promise you won't be disappointed! 

So, who's going? Let us know! Connect with us! Tweet us or Instagram us while you are there so we can find you! 


Monday, August 3, 2015

My First Teddy Bear Clinic

Last month was my very first Teddy Bear Clinic! 
For those who do not know, a teddy bear clinic is a fun way for a child to experience what might happen if they ever needed to go to the hospital, with their bear as the patient. 

The child life specialists at my hospital were in charge of this event. For our first time running a big event like this, I am extremely proud of our team. 

We worked with the director of Peds and Marketing in order to pull off this event. We were able to help over 600 children and their teddys! 

How we set up the teddy bear clinic
 In order to avoid a traffic jam of children, we had the same booths on each side.  

The child would come to the registration table first, receive a bear, name their bear, and get a hospital band and hospital certificate! 
Then the child and their bear would go on to the Emergency Department, to radiology, to the lab, to surgery and finally discharge or home. 

In the Emergency Department bears were measured, had their temperatures measured, their blood pressures taken, and their hearts listened to. 

In Radiology bears were given an x-ray! How cute is the actual x-ray of a bear? Our amazing x-ray tech coated the bear in contrast to get the fun picture. 

In the lab, we talked about veins cleaned the bears arm, tied a tourniquet, and used "bear blood" to illustrate a lab draw. Bears were given a band-aid as well. 
In surgery, the child was able to be the surgeon. They got to wear a buffon, mask and gloves as well as tell the surgeons where the bear needed surgery. The surgeons gave the bear a sleepy mask, and worked on the bears until they felt all better.
The last station was the discharge station. We handed out a teddy bear clinic coloring sheet, created by the awesome Prescription to Play Blogger, and let children participate in medical play.

We also had a police car, ambulance, and fire truck for children to explore after their bears had been discharged. 

I had a blast and can't wait to make it even better next year!

Has your hospital ever participated in a Teddy Bear Clinic? What things do I need to add to ours? 

Thank you for all your support for the blog lately! We love you guys!