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Child Life Practicum

Pre-Internship Program

Program updates

Thank you for your interest in the Child Life pre-internship clinical opportunities at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We are in the process of making changes to our student programming. At this time, we do not plan to offer a practicum experience during the summer of 2024.

Please continue to visit this webpage for details about future pre-internship clinical experiences through our department as well as information about eligibility criteria and application requirements. We anticipate that Child Life 101 will return. We will continue to evaluate plans.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Explore our Child Life Internship Programming opportunities with the Child Life program at St. Jude.

Purpose of the child life practicum

Our child life program provides meaningful education and training for prospective child life professionals. The child life practicum is organized to:

  • Allow students to gain insight and exposure to the child life profession through observation and hands-on learning experiences
  • Help students understand the unique needs of hospitalized children and their families

Beyond the goals of strengthening confidence in the hospital environment and building therapeutic play skills, the student has the chance to observe a child life specialist during various clinical interventions. These may include:

  • Diagnostic teaching
  • Therapeutic play
  • Surgical preparation
  • Medical play
  • Legacy-oriented interventions and bereavement
  • Assessment

Along with observations, the child life practicum offers education through structured seminars, assignments, and readings.

By previewing a variety of clinical skills and doing required hospital volunteering, a determined student will be fully prepared for a child life internship and will truly understand a child life specialist’s multifaceted role.

  1. Child Life at St. Jude is dedicated to developing creative approaches to support and advocate for children and families. Our work helps to minimize the psychological trauma of life-threatening illnesses. Therapeutic play, education, preparation, and legacy building are key in our daily goals to promote healthy development, self-expression, peer interaction, family-centered care, a sense of mastery, and coping skills.

    Practicum students help us to fulfill this mission side-by-side while caring for our St. Jude patients. Our philosophy continues as students leave our program and begin their own careers supporting children as experienced, knowledgeable, and confident child life professionals.

  2. Child Life began at St. Jude in 1994. The program resulted from research on the benefits of children learning to cope with stressful experiences through play. In 1998, developing a child life program became an institutional objective which included national managerial recruitment.

    Today, Child Life at St. Jude is an integral part of the care team. Child life is visible in every clinical area from patient care to institutional program development. We have an expert team of child life specialists, music therapists, facility dogs, administrative specialists, and activity coordinators.