Thursday, March 28, 2019

Proving you are a Child Life Specialist

My Mantra and Child Life Philosophy has always been: 

"You are a Child Life Specialist no matter what you bring into the room with you. You are a Child Life Specialist because of what you know and what you can do, and that's all that matters."
Today I am going to tell you a story of how I know Child Life is making an impact in my hospital.

I have been a child life specialist for 4 years now.  A few weeks ago, I got a text from a nurse stating that a patient was being brought back from CT because she was refusing to hold still, and the techs wanted to sedate. The nurse -caring for the patient- told them, "No, let's try child life." I talked to the patient about the CT scan, prepped her using my little doll CT machine, and talked about what made her so scared the first time. 
She said "I just didn't know what was happening, everyone was yelling at me to hold still and my arm hurt." 
So then I asked her if she thought she could finish the CT scan now that she understood why we needed the pictures and what was expected of her. She said, "Yes!" We continued to construct our coping plan including listening to a song from Tangled and blowing bubbles while we waited for the CT tech to come get us.

Sounds like a typical child life CT intervention right?

Image result for connecting with compassion child life
This is where the story gets good. The CT tech showed up- already annoyed- and said "Where is this magic child person or whatever??" I had never seen him before, so I introduced myself as Sydney the Child Life Specialist. He responded with, "You're the Child Life Specialist? What the he** is a teenager going to be able to do? This girl needs to be sedated" I informed him of my role with the healthcare team, my age, and then he laughed in my face. He turned to the patient's father, and said, "Let's go. We are going to be coming right back anyway."

You probably already know what happens next, right? The patient got right into the CT scanner, I turned on her favorite song, and blew the bubbles. And what do you know? The patient held perfectly still like a statue, and the scan was over in a few minutes. As much I wanted to gloat and brag to the CT tech, I kept my cool, high-fived my little friend, and said, "Let's go back and tell mom what a great job you did."

As we were walking back, the CT tech stopped me, and said, "That was amazing. The child wouldn't even get on the bed earlier, and she practically jumped up there. You really are magic. I'm sorry I doubted you, I'm telling all the other CT techs to put you on speed dial."

No one can ever make you feel inferior unless you let them. (A little Princess Diaries reference? Or just Elenor Roosevelt?) Now, I know this interaction could have totally backfired, the patient could have freaked out again, and needed the medication for sedation. While this would have been totally okay, I was able to show professionalism and make it work. As a child life specialist we have our haters - 
the people that call us toy ladies- 
or say all we do is blow bubbles- 
or play all day- 
but we know that everything we do is for a purpose.
Don't ever forget it!


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