Steps of internship readiness experience (1366 × 500 px) (12)


The internship process is a key factor to the certification path and access into the profession. Several major pain points have been identified over the past several years regarding the internship process. Evaluation of materials, review of expectations, and alignment of needs surrounding internship have been key priorities for ACLP, especially as it relates to goals of diversifying the membership and strengthening a vital component of initiation into the professional community. 

To address these pain points, ACLP formed several groups, including the Internship Readiness Work Group, to improve the internship process experience. This work group consisted of members of the child life community from across the country in various roles. The process to improve the internship experience was divided into five steps: Internship Think Tank, development of Internship Readiness Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs), construction of an Internship Readiness Common Application, pilot program of the new common application, and finally implementation of the new common application by the child life community. Below is a high-level overview of the work that has been done on each of these steps.

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1. Internship Think Tank (2020)

This intensive, three-session, facilitated discussion brought together key stakeholders to identify and discuss pain points within the internship process. As a result of these intensive sessions, ACLP identified a clear need to define internship readiness to support the child life community in navigating the path to certification.

Attendee composition at these sessions included the Chairs of ACLP’s Education & Training Committee, Academic Review Committee, Internship Accreditation Oversight Committee, leadership from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, and the Child Life Certification Commission. The group also included two students that recently went through the application and selection process, academics, CCLS leaders of endorsed and non-endorsed programs, clinical coordinators and leaders of accredited and non-accredited programs, and key staff and board members. 

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2. Development of the Internship Readiness Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) (2021)

ACLP contracted with Alpine Testing Solutions, Inc. (Alpine) to facilitate a domain analysis for the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) internship readiness process. The purpose of the analysis was to identify and prioritize critical competencies necessary for a Internship Ready Candidate. The analysis consisted of a series of virtual meetings, followed by a large-scale survey, then a virtual meeting to finalize the competencies and relative weights. 

How were the Internship Readiness KSAs Developed?

1. Identification of subject matter experts.
     -Partnered with Alpine to facilitate work and provide psychometric services
     -Identified 12-15 SMEs representing a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and demographics 

2. Defining minimal competence.
     -Leveraging the expertise of our SMEs and Alpine we began by defining minimal competence
     -With this definition in place, the group applied the psychometric process to identify what internship 
      readiness looks like for an Internship Ready Candidate

3. Validation from the child life community.
     -Your opinion matters. To validate the work of our expert group, ACLP sent out a validation survey in
      November of 2021. The survey was completed by over 1,200 individuals and affirmed the newly
      developed KSAs as valid. 

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3. Development of a NEW Internship Readiness Common Application (2021- 2022)

After development of the Internship Readiness KSAs, ACLP identified a need to review the common application requirements for expectations, reasonableness, and fairness. ACLP contracted with Alpine Testing Solutions, Inc. (Alpine) to facilitate an Internship Requirement Alignment Study as well as the revision process for the Common Child Life Internship Application.

A. Internship Requirement Alignment Study: Review of the Application Elements 

The Internship Requirement Alignment study consisted of three, 3-hour virtual meetings. A panel of twelve SMEs convened virtually to participate in the Internship Alignment Study.

Prior to the first meeting, the participants were asked to rate the internship application elements, identified by ACLP, for expectations, reasonableness, and fairness. The survey results were then used as a starting point for the participants' discussion during the first meeting on which elements should be kept and which elements should be eliminated. During the second meeting, individuals reviewed the application elements and how each component is aligned with the new KSAs. Participants also ranked each elements from most to least important. Finally, the last meeting was used to discuss results of the ranking activity to decide on which application components would be a part of the new application.

B. Development of an updated Internship Readiness Common Application

After the application elements were identified, the next step was to revise the common application. This process consisted of three virtual meetings in which twelve SMEs participated to create the new Internship Readiness Common Application. The new Internship Readiness Common Application will have a positive impact on students, clinical sites, and academia.

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C. View the new Internship Readiness Common Application


Take a closer look at the new application here.


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4. Pilot Program for new application (2022)

ACLP partnered with three internship sites to pilot the new Internship Readiness Common Application. These sites utilized the new application for the March-September 2022 application window. After the application window closed, these pilot sites -- along with the applicants -- provided feedback on the new Internship Readiness Common Application.  The feedback was analyzed and used to help improve and streamline the new Internship Readiness Common Application.

Some highlights from the applicant feedback in which 97% of respondents had experience with both the old and new application:

• 94% agreed that the new application took less time to complete
• 86% agreed that the new application reduced financial obligations
• 5 out of 10 felt they had sufficient opportunity to showcase their experience and readiness

Some highlights from the pilot site feedback:

• 100% agreed that the new application took less time to review
• 100% agreed or felt neutral that the new application helped reduce bias
• 3 out of 3 programs felt they had sufficient information to identify internship-ready candidates

From the feedback collected, the Internship Readiness Work Group is currently making changes to the new common application that will be implemented for the January 2023 launch.

Some of those changes include: 

• The term "Minimally Qualified Candidate" has been replaced with "Internship Ready Candidate" to align with a strength-based approach and to emphasize the goal of being internship ready
• Addition of start and end dates for listed experiences on the new application
• Creating an updated method to submit completed applications as a single PDF versus the ZIP files that were hard to navigate for applicants.

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5. Launch of the new Internship Readiness Common Application (2023)

The Internship Readiness Common Application can be found here. Please read the tips and instructions within the application before submitting.


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