ACLP Pre-Internship Work Group Spotlight:
Co-Chairs Hilary Woodward and Nicole Gandolfo

ACLP Bulletin  |  Spring 2023  |  Vol. 41, No. 2


The following is transcribed from an interview that took place virtually (Zoom) and was conducted by Sana Shooshtari, B.A. 

Untitled (1000 × 50 px) (1300 × 50 px)


Name: Hilary Woodward
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Title: CCLS, Pediatric Emergency Department, New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Committee/Committee Role: Co-chair of the Pre-Internship Work Group


Name: Nicole Gandolfo
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Title: CCLS, Child Life Manager, Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware
Committee/Committee Role: Co-chair of the Pre-Internship Work Group

Q: What is your role in the Pre-Internship Work Group? How did you get into that position?

Hilary: I’m a co-chair of this work group. Unlike a typical committee that has a chair and chair-elect, Nicole and I share the chair responsibilities as co-chairs. My involvement began when I participated in the ACLP Internship Think Tank which happened virtually back in the summer of 2020, so part of my role in the co-chair relationship was to think about how we can bring some of those ideas and discussions that came from that Think Tank into our charter for the work.

Nicole: My role in this workgroup is as the other co-chair. I came into this position through previous
work creating some of the modules first as a member and then a chair of the Practicum Task Force back in 2018 and 2019.

Q: What is the charge of the Pre-Internship Work Group?

Hilary: Our primary charge was to revise the previous Practicum Modules (now referred to as the Pre-Internship Modules) with a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens as well as to align the modules with the newly released guidelines associated with the Internship Readiness Common Application and Internship Readiness Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs).

Nicole: After the revisions were made, the other responsibility for our group was to come up with a dissemination plan to the child life community. How do we communicate best with key stakeholders so that the revised modules are accessible to the child life community?

Q: What is one thing your committee has accomplished in the past year that you’re most proud of?

Nicole: I’m extremely proud of the work that we did to revise the Pre-Internship Modules. The request of the work group in the initial charter was to update only the DEI Module; however, after reviewing all the modules, we recognized that we needed to go further and revise all the modules. We reached out to the ACLP Executive Board to request permission to change our charter. This request was approved and so our work group began revising all the modules so that they were in alignment with each other, ACLP’s DEI goals, as well as the Internship Readiness work. By aligning the Pre-Internship Modules with the KSAs needed for internship readiness, we were ensuring that these modules would help programs support and sustain experiences that would train aspiring child life specialists to be prepared for internship. Our work group had a very tight timeline, so I’m incredibly proud of how efficiently and effectively the group worked. The fact that we were able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time was substantial and a testament to how hard the group worked.

Hilary: I hope the child life community will see how impactful the changes are. Given the close alignment of the Pre-Internship Modules with the KSAs, we’re hopeful that this will be a helpful resource for members in our community to think about how they support students in their journey to internship readiness. I also hope that our community sees how we’ve intentionally woven different DEI resources into the modules. The work group wanted to ensure that DEI topics were integrated into all the modules and not seen as a standalone topic since DEI is woven into everything we do as a CCLS. We tried to pare-down the resources in each module to make them as accessible as possible for students regardless of whether they’re currently in a child life course as well as to accommodate different learning styles (i.e. articles, video clips, closed captions, etc).

Q: How do you see these new Pre-Internship Modules being useful to the child life community?

Hilary: The work group was guided by the fact that practicum experiences have been valuable for many students entering the field of child life; however, at the same time, they have also become a barrier to many people trying to enter the field of child life. The work group tried to balance how different types of experiences are going to help different types of applicants be able to demonstrate KSAs on the internship readiness common application. We’re hoping that these modules will be helpful for a certain group of students. This is not meant to be overly prescriptive in that every pre-internship student needs to use these modules to be internship ready. This is ONE resource and tool a student could use to prepare for internship.

Nicole: Hilary has a really important point with that statement and how the work group was intentional about ensuring these new modules are not overly prescriptive. One of the ways that we tried to do that was through the language used throughout the modules. For example, using the term “supervisor” instead of “child life specialist” recognizes that a supervisor at a camp for medically fragile children might not be a CCLS; however, this experience would be extremely valuable. By being mindful and intentional with the language used, the work group tried to showcase that there are a lot of different avenues that one could take on their journey to becoming a child life specialist. We wanted to create something that allowed for more pathways to achieve pre-internship preparation and ultimately into the profession.

Q: What is something that you hope people can take away from the work that you’ve done?

Hilary: One of the things the work group thought about while developing these new Pre-Internship Modules is that we know that there are CCLSs who are interested in giving some of their time to support aspiring professionals but might not have the resources or capacity to facilitate an internship. What we’re hoping is that these modules could potentially allow some of those folks to be able to support students on their journey to internship readiness and to make that opportunity a bit more accessible. Specifically, we’re hopeful these resources might be of assistance to people who find themselves outside the hospital settings because we know there are many, many individuals in these roles doing great work and who would have a lot to contribute to aspiring professionals.

Nicole: I know that the child life community (and I mean that in the global sense) has been looking for support around creating these preparatory experiences to reduce barriers as well as to find ways to be more inclusive and diversify the profession. These new Pre-Internship Modules can be one tool to help reduce some of those barriers with hopefully very little burden to programs that are looking to set up these kinds of experiences. The modules could give individuals who may not fit a traditional pathway more opportunities to use this curriculum to enhance their learning and ability to meet the KSAs for internship readiness.