If you asked me if I thought my job as a child life specialist is beneficial to not only the children who are hospitalized, but also the nurses who I work alongside, I would immediately respond - yes, of course! Though it has been a constant struggle to get nurses, let alone the general population, to truly believe that child life specialists help a child during their hospitalization, not only just for their toys and playroom, it continually gets better each and every day - and for that I am proud.
Just a few weeks ago we celebrated nurse's week at the hospital that I work at. We made sure we had raffles every day to give notice to at least one of the nurses, had patients and families fill out 'how their nurse helps them' slips, eventually hanging them up for all to see, and we ended the week with a huge luncheon. Child life specialists were invited to a nursing team day celebration, and we were told that we were nominated for the partners in care award - an award that signifies how helpful a healthcare professional has been to the nurses. We went down to the celebration, dressed in our best clothes and heels (definitely not something we wear on a daily basis). We entered in raffles, and enjoyed taking pictures with each other. As the awards were announced, I was in awe watching each and every individual go up to receive their award, especially one of our own pediatric nurses who has been there for 30+ years, and was noticed for her amazing leadership achievements. I was proud, and excited for our category to be called. We all became nervous when a similar category was announced and we did not receive the award. We kept listening, and upon hearing our Child Life Program being recognized, it all became a blur. I began shaking out of excitement, and nervousness as we walked up to be recognized. The lady who had announced us was speaking great things about our program, but I barely heard her as I was hugging and being congratulated by our pediatric nurses, and eventually those who are higher up.
We took pictures, and held up our glass award. It felt incredible to be recognized. Little by little more and more individuals are understanding what it is we do as child life specialists. It's one thing for people outside of the hospital to know what you do, and a completely different thing when those who are not around us in the hospital truly understand the benefits of child life. Our nurse managers handed us flowers, and congratulated us, laughing while they did it. I didn't understand why, until I heard that they knew the entire time that we had won. While we were told we were only nominated, the nursing staff was told we won. They had kept a secret, which is quite difficult to do when you work with many, many women.
After our nerves dissipated, we were finally able to eat, but we couldn't shake the excitement. The rest of the day we stopped everyone we knew just to tell them that our program had won. We did it.