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Child Life Practicum

Program Updates as of September 2023

Thank you for your interest in student opportunities with the Child Life Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Our program is no longer offering the traditionally structured practicum program we have offered in the past. New pre-internship programming opportunities will be available in the future.

Please continue to refer to this website for details about future pre-internship clinical experiences through our department as this site will be updated as information becomes available. At this time, we hope to have this process completed and ready to take new students starting in the summer of 2024. Additional information regarding eligibility criteria and applications coming soon. 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 Practicum

Our child life program is committed to providing meaningful education and training for prospective child life professionals. The child life practicum 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.

    Practicum 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.