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Child Life Internship Opportunities

The Child Life Program will not be accepting interns for Spring 2023.

Dear Applicant,

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 2-5 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. There is also an intern committee which serves as a consistent resource and aids in the transition process as interns become integral members of our team. Attached is the mission of our institution and program, eligibility requirements, and application process details.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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 18 full time certified child life specialists and two music therapists.

Our Internship Experience

We believe strongly in balancing both “hands on” child life experience coupled with essential educational components. Each intern will have two long rotations 6-7 weeks in an inpatient and outpatient setting enduring 16 weeks (640 hours). The internship is neither paid nor does it require payment beyond the intern’s own living expenses. 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.


Internship is 640 hours (16 weeks) of clinical experience.

  • 1 Week: Orientation
  • 6 Weeks: Rotation One
  • 3 Weeks: Mini Rotation
  • 6 Weeks: Rotation Two

Possible Rotations

Include immersion in inpatient and outpatient settings within the Neurooncology, Solid Tumor, Leukemia, Hematology, Bone Marrow Transplant, Surgery, and Radiation medical services.

Here are a sample of units included in those rotations:

    • Bone Marrow Transplant
    • Solid Tumor/Brain Tumor Inpatient
    • Leukemia Inpatient
    • ICU
    • Radiation Oncology
    • Solid Tumor Clinic
    • Leukemia Clinic
    • Brain Tumor Clinic
    • Solid Tumor/Brain Tumor Teens Outpatient
    • Leukemia/ Bone Marrow Clinic Teens
    • Diagnostic Imaging
    • Hematology/ Infectious Disease Clinics
    • Procedures/ Surgery Clinics

Education Seminar Samples

There are two-five 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:

Child developmental theory and impact of hospitalization
Diagnostic Teaching
Child Life Assessment
Therapeutic iIterventions
Implementing a Play Group


Expressive Art
Medical Play
Sibling Support
Legacy Building


Body Image
Death and Dying
Event Planning
Job Hunting



    • Senior in college or completed bachelor’s or master’s degree
    • Applicants with high academic achievement will have priority
    • Child Life
    • Child Development
    • Human Growth and Development
    • Child Psychology
    • Other Related Fields

    Confirmation of classes taken are approved by the Child Life Council through the online Eligibility Assessment. Eligibility includes approval of a child life course taught by a child life specialist.

    • Work or volunteer experience with well infants, children, and/or teens (100 hours)
    • Child life practicum (100 hours) supervised by a child life specialist in a hospital setting
  1. The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an intern to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

    While performing the duties of this job, the intern is regularly required to stand; walk; sit; kneel, use hands to finger, handle, or feel; and talk or hear. The intern must be able to travel frequently between two hospital buildings as well as outpatient clinics and inpatient units throughout them. The intern will accompany patients to diagnostic imaging (MRI, ultrasound, CT etc), procedures, and surgeries and need to provide support throughout the duration of them. Interns must be able to maintain supervision and lead an activity for up to twenty patients while ensuring their safety at all times. The interns must frequently lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception, and ability to adjust focus.

    The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

    While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently exposed to infectious agents, body fluids, secretions, blood products, and cytotoxic agents. Occasional exposure to radiation and waste anesthetic gases. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate. Ability to work in covert stressful conditions.

*Letters of recommendation and recommendation forms can either be submitted in a signed/sealed envelope within the student application packet, emailed directly to the internship coordinator, or submitted by mail directly to the address listed for internship application materials.


The Child Life Program will not be accepting interns for Spring 2023.

Application Process and Packet Requirements

Only completed entries will be reviewed. To apply, please submit all of the following items:

  • Child Life Council Intern Application form
  • Copy of transcripts from all attended institutions (student copy acceptable)
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 overall and 3.5 in major
  • Two Child Life Internship Candidate Common Recommendation Forms (located in the ACLP common application) (one from a professor, one from child life practicum supervisor). Exception will be made if you have graduated from college for 5+ years ago; in which case an additional form from a child life practicum supervisor or child life specialist volunteer supervisor will suffice. Additional letters of recommendation from these two references are not required but will be accepted if the reference chooses to include it. If you are requesting a recommendation form from an institution which is unable to legally provide one, including your final practicum evaluation could replace this requirement.
  • A completed child life practicum experience in a hospital setting supervised by a child life specialist (100 hours at minimum by application deadline). We do not accept practicums in progress, at this time, unless the minimum 100 hours have been completed by application deadline.
  • Verification of Child Life Practicum Hours (either through the ACLP form included in the common application packet or on institutional letterhead)
  • Experience with well infants, children, and/or teens (work or volunteer accepted) 100 hours which should be referenced in your application and resume. The ACLP’s Verification of Related Experience Hours form is not required.
  • Resume and cover letter
  • Eligibility Assessment: Applicants, please print the screen displaying all completed  and approved course work. This will indicate that the applicant has the ten ACLP-approved collegiate courses required for certification. Due to the increase of specific courses required by the ACLP, St. Jude will now accept an ACLP “course in-progress” form completed by a professor. 
  • Due to Covid 19 and widespread policies limiting child life student programming and volunteering throughout the nation, we will accept applications missing or partially completing these requirements for the remainder of 2021. In addition, if you are unable to include a letter of recommendation from a child life supervisor, please include a letter of recommendation from an observer of your work with children. 

Please send completed application packets to:

Child Life Department
Attention: Internship Committee
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
MS 121, Room BP300
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105-3678 USA
Phone: (901) 595-3020
Fax: (901) 595-2690

All applications must be postmarked by the application deadline.