The ACLP Mentor Program

The Leadership Development Committee is pleased to announce that applications for the 2018 Mentor Program will be available later this month. The Mentor Program provides ACLP members with a structured, six-month program designed to support the development and growth of child life specialists at multiple stages of their career. The program welcomes both mentors and mentees, and applicants are matched based on interests and experiences, creating the optimal foundation for joint learning. 

Child life specialists at all clinical levels who are members of ACLP are welcome to participate. Mentorship opportunities are also available for academic child life professionals seeking opportunities to develop and enhance skills related to the academic setting. Mentors are eligible to receive 1 PDU for mentoring in the ACLP Mentor Program.

The mentor program will run from January through June, 2018. Mentees will work with their mentors to set goals at the beginning of the program, and mentors and mentees will communicate on a regular basis throughout the six months. All participants will also attend webinars about leadership development topics.

The ACLP Mentor Program application will be available starting August 28, 2017. The deadline to submit an application is October 6.


What Is Mentorship? A Mentor's Perspective

By Krista Stringer

“The greatest success we’ll know is helping others succeed and grow” - Gregory Scott Reid
The quote above is one of my favorites as it perfectly describes the reason I became a child life specialist, and why I find such joy in my current role as Team Leader and Education Coordinator. I was honored to be chosen to serve as a mentor this year for the ACLP Mentor Program to continue to help others. To me, mentorship is helping others succeed and grow, but doing it in a way that best fits their learning needs, personality and style. It requires active and intentional listening and a collaborative approach. Mentorship means working with the mentee to help them solve the problem rather than just giving them the solution right away. Mentoring in this manner helps not only the mentee learn and grow, but the mentor as well.
The ACLP Mentor Program is structured in a way to allow for this reciprocal growth. Being a mentor to a newer, clinical child life specialist was very rejuvenating to me.  Hearing my mentee’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn and grow became contagious to me and helped re-energize me in my clinical role. Participating in this program helped me to learn lessons as a mentor, as it gave me practice to be that active and intentional listener and to resist my urge to try to just “give her the answer,” but rather collaborate with her to  help her create her own plan. I was also grateful for the networking opportunity this program gave me, and I’m excited to get to continue my relationship with my mentee even though the formal program has ended. I also walked away from this experience with tangible resources from the webinars provided on how to better communicate and be an effective leader. These are things I have been able to implement in my current role as a leader at my institution.
The mentor program allows opportunities that people may not always get in their organizations. As a profession, we have great structure in place to train and mentor interns, but not all programs have a mentor program or structured supervision in place for new hires or for seasoned employees looking to move up the clinical ladder. This unique opportunity offered by the ACLP allows for this structure and growth for our profession, which in turn strengthens us not only as leaders, but as child life specialists. The best part is that it’s open and available for both new hires and seasoned employees, and truly is set up to tailor the experience to each person’s unique goals they have at the time.  I loved my experience and hope to participate again in the future in some capacity. I would definitely encourage others to consider participating as it’s an excellent growth opportunity!

Lessons from My Mentor: A Mentee's Perspective

By Divna Wheelwright

I’ve long been indebted to the ACLP Mentor Program, first for the experience of serving as a mentor in 2016, and most recently for the emotional shift brought about by my participation as a mentee. As a new manager in the field, I had the benefit of being paired with one of the field’s most humble yet accomplished leaders. These are some of the many lessons she imparted.
Seek the objective: One of the most profound benefits of participating in the Mentor Program is access to perspective that bears no emotional ties to your organization. There is a tremendous amount of freedom in being able to process challenges and victories with a person who can interpret your development without personal attachment or bias. Often we are not aware of the many ways we apply emotion to our own rendering of events—the objectivity (and subsequent sound advice), of my mentor reminded me of the power of an outside perspective.
Be gentle and self affirm often: There were several moments over the course of my mentorship where I was urged to apply the same grace I would extend to patients and families in times of struggle to my own, often merciless, internal dialogue. The concept of self affirming mantras came up often, my mentor encouraging me to create my own anchors of gratitude with which I could ground myself. Soon enough, “I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents,” found its way to the inside of my medicine cabinet.
Everyone has something to teach; everyone has something to learn: One of the most consistent themes in my discussions with my mentor was the dual benefit of the mentoring partnership. Although the gifts I reaped were blatant, my mentor often acknowledged the reciprocal nature of the dyad. The new manager, despite unpacking her proverbial bag of fears and mistakes, still had the capacity to teach the seasoned manager. The same argument extends for child life specialists and educators. 
Actively listen: Mentors listen first and speak last. My mentor was masterful at creating space for silent reflection, and actively allowed the conversation to build and break without superficial commentary. Initially I would squirm through the silences. As time and trust evolved, I realized that there was a larger intention at hand: to create space that would still my mind and help me to weave meaning from the threads of my own experience.
When in doubt, re-frame: At one point in my mentorship, I found myself at an impasse with leadership. My personal ethics, always felt strongly, were bleeding into my professional sphere. I processed the challenge with my mentor, who asked a simple question in response: “Is it your role to champion this initiative?” Dumbstruck, I sat back in my chair to reflect. The simple call to evaluate the place from which I was advocating, forced me to re-frame the encounter.
As an integral component of the CLC Leadership Development Committee, the Mentor Program provides both mentors and mentees with a structured, six-month program designed to support the development and growth of child life specialists at multiple stages of their career. Selected mentors and mentees are matched based on interests and experiences, creating the optimal foundation for joint learning.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Mentor Program