Thank you for your interest in our program. A child life internship marks a very poignant beginning in every specialist’s professional journey. This is designed to outline the internship experience offered at St Jude, our application process, as well as to share additional information about our program. We encourage you to seek this information from several institutions so that you are choosing a program that best suits your individual educational needs and child life philosophy.
Our program offers a 16 weeklong child life internship twice a year; fall and spring sessions. To maximize the full spectrum of child life services attained, there are two clinical rotations as well as weekly educational seminars. This fielded experience paired with related curriculum provides interns with deep insight and gained understanding into the needs of families coping with chronic illness and the valuable role of child life in their healthcare team.
This program is intended for college seniors, master’s degree students, or college graduates with backgrounds and experience in child life, child development, education, psychology, or related fields. Our goal is to provide interns with opportunities to build independence in developing thorough assessments, providing appropriate interventions, and creating unique programming. Interns are trained and supervised on individual rotations by experienced and certified child life specialists.
Again, thank you for your interest in our program. Best wishes to you as you begin this time of deliberation and meaningful step in your career.
The Child Life Internship Committee
St Jude Children’s Research Hospital
We are a program that is dedicated to developing creative and innovative approaches in supporting and advocating for children and families in an effort to minimize the psychological trauma of life-threatening illnesses. Therapeutic play, education, preparation, and legacy building are instrumental in our daily goals to promote normal development, self-expression, peer interaction, family centered care, a sense of mastery, and developed coping.
Interns are seen as helping us to fulfill this mission side by side while caring for our St. Jude patients. Our philosophy continues as job entry specialists leave our program and begin their own careers continuing to support children as experienced, knowledgeable, and confident professionals.
Child life was instituted at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in 1994 resulting from the research seen widely in the medical community of the benefits of children’s coping 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 Children's Research Hospital is an integral part of the medical team and is visible in every clinical arena from patient care to institutional program development. We currently have 21 certified child life specialists, 3 board certified music therapists, and a patient activity coordinator.
We believe strongly in balancing both “hands on” child life experience coupled with essential educational components. The internship is 640 hours (16 weeks) of clinical experience with immersion in inpatient and outpatient settings. Our medical service lines include bone marrow transplant, brain tumor, diagnostic imaging, hematology, leukemia, radiation therapy, solid tumor, and surgery. Hours are generally Monday - Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm with a few opportunities for nights and weekends. St. Jude has had a child life internship program (in its current form) since 2008 and was accredited by the ACLP in 2017.
The Child Life Program is proud to offer stipends for students completing a child life internship. By investing in stipends, we hope to support student professionals by acknowledging barriers, reducing burden, and fostering emotional safety. One identified burden includes any financial constraints that may otherwise prohibit a student’s ability to pursue a child life specialist profession. In order to qualify for a stipend, a child life internship student must be enrolled in a college or university and complete 40 internship hours a week. Potential stipends may include $400-480 per week. Students will have the opportunity to accept or decline the stipend and this will not be made public or have added requirements to their internship.
There are weekly education seminars presented by staff for interns as well as weekly discussion/ wrap up meetings for peer support development. Seminars are given throughout the internship on over 35 subjects from the child life perspective. Here are some sample seminar topics: body image, boundaries, child development, child life assessment, death and dying, diagnosis teaching, documentation, impact of hospitalization, job hunting, legacy building, medical play, preparation, prioritization, sibling support, and therapeutic interventions.
The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Child Life Program supports The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) Internship Guidelines, and we are using the ACLP Internship Readiness Common Application. Please refer to https://www.childlife.org/certification/certification-resources/internship-deadlines for questions related to deadlines, application guidance, and/or resources.