I quickly fell in love, not just with the profession, or with the feeling I left the hospital with, but with the smile on the children's faces, and their resilience shining so bright even when they weren't feeling their best. I eventually moved on to my internship, and that only made me more positive that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I make the hospital experience a little less traumatizing and frightening, and a little more therapeutic and fun. I prepare children for medical procedures using pictures, videos, dolls and simpler explanations, I educate them on a new diagnosis, I distract them during procedures, and I provide support for the family. There's also a playroom that helps the child just be exactly that... a child! Play is extremely important for any child, especially when they're in the hospital.
Since then I have met hundreds of children, and families. I have guided them through their hospital experience in more ways than one, and I have learned more things in my first year than I ever thought possible. Each individual child is unique and different. What works for one child, may not work for another; what works for one family, may not work for the one down the hall. Sure I've had my fair share of failed interventions, but I've also had extremely rewarding moments - when a patient picks up on the guided imagery I am providing while they're getting their IV, and imagines they're on a beach, with the dolphins jumping in and out of the water, when a family calls for you specifically to help distract their child during a medical procedure, when you explain a diagnosis and you see the child understand - it's as if a lightbulb goes off in their head, when a child you've been working with, feels good enough to bust out dance moves in the playroom during Zumba, when a family finds out good news and they come back and visit to share, when a child calls your name down the hospital hallways and wants a hug. It's so much more rewarding than upsetting or depressing.
In my first few months there, I was rewarded by the nurse managers for going 'above and beyond,' as the months went by, I held a Child Life Refreshment Refresher for our nurses to make sure they understand what we do, I presented at our very own Child Life Conference, I started Movie Night Mondays, we've created a brochure so that more families know who we are, and I have networked with a great amount of professionals, just to name a few.
No one can quite understand why I do what I do, even after I explain it to them, but they haven't
walked the hallways of a pediatric unit... they don't understand how resilient these children are - they don't give up, and they're stronger than most people I know as an adult. I am a Child Life Specialist because these kids need me. Here's to another year as a CCLS!