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Child Life Pre-Internship Program

Program Updates as of January 2024

Thank you for your interest in the Child Life pre-internship clinical opportunities offered at St. Jude. We are currently in the process of making changes to our student programming. At this time, we do NOT plan to offer pre-internship experiences for Spring, Summer, or Fall 2024. Updated changes and updates will be posted February 2025. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Explore our Child Life Internship Programming opportunities with the Child Life Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Purpose of Pre-Internship

Our child life program is committed to providing meaningful education and training for prospective child life professionals. The child life pre-internship is organized to give students the opportunity to gain insight and exposure to the child life profession and help students understand the unique needs of hospitalized children and their families. Beyond the goal of strengthening confidence with the hospital environment and building therapeutic play skills, the student has the unique opportunity to observe a child life specialist during a multitude of clinical interventions. These observed clinical interventions may include diagnostic teaching, surgical preparation, medical play, bereavement, and assessment. Education is offered congruent to observations through structured seminars, assignments, and readings.

It is our belief that previewing a variety of clinical skills in addition to prerequisite traditional hospital volunteering fully prepares a determined student for a child life internship and truly highlights a child life specialist’s multifaceted role.

  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.

    Pre-internship students are seen as helping us to fulfill this mission side by side while caring for our St. Jude patients. Our philosophy continues as intern-ready students 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 21 child life specialists, 3 music therapists, 2 facility dogs, 1 administrative specialist, and 1 activity coordinator.