How Do You Become a Child Life Specialist?
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- The Top 10 Best Online Master's in Healthcare Administration Programs (MHA) 2016
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Earn At Least a Bachelor’s Degree Related to Child LifeThe first step towards being a child life specialist is to earn a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited post-secondary institution. While there are some universities in the United States that offer baccalaureate-level degrees specifically in child life, there are a number of acceptable majors, including child and family studies, psychology, early childhood education, child development, family psychology, social work, and recreational therapy. Regardless of your chosen major, it will be beneficial to fill up your course schedule with classes offered in child life, human development, family dynamics, counseling, sociology, therapeutic recreation, expressive therapies, cultural diversity, biomedical ethics, and even pediatric nursing. All aspiring child life specialists must complete at least 10 college-level courses related to child life.
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Obtain Work Experience with Children in Pediatric CareDuring the course of your bachelor’s degree or immediately following graduation, it is highly recommended that you complete a child life internship or fellowship under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist to obtain hands-on work experience. Before moving on to the next step, you will need to successfully complete at least 480 clock hours of unpaid clinical work as a child life intern. Therefore, you will want to use your professional contacts to pursue internship opportunities available in a wide range of healthcare settings, including children’s hospitals, pediatric rehabilitation facilities, pediatric burn centers, pediatric hospices, community clinics, and specialized camp programs for children with cancer, diabetes, or other conditions.
Apply to Receive Certification as a Child Life SpecialistIn order to demonstrate to prospective employers that you have exceeded a mandatory level of education, experience, and professional competency in the field, it is highly recommended that you apply to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) through the Child Life Council. As the only credential in the field, nearly all positions will require you to become a CCLS by receiving a passing grade on the Child Life Professional Certification Exam, which includes a total of 150 multiple-choice questions over four hours. Since the examination is designed to evaluate your understanding of the practical applications of professional child life theories, you should study for the test by taking online practice tests and following the CLC’s study guides. Related Resource: Healthcare Lobbyist Overall, child life specialists are specially trained pediatric healthcare professionals who devote their career to working with children in various clinical settings to help them cope with life’s most challenging events. When you follow these steps to become a child life specialist, you will be armed with a strong background in child development to help promote effective coping with play, education, and self-expression activities for children throughout their medical treatment.
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