ACLP Bulletin | Spring 2023 | VOL. 41 No. 2

Shannon Dier, MS, CCLS

“In the beginning, I never would have believed the amount of growth I accomplished over the semester. Throughout the semester, I reminded myself that I could do hard things, which allowed me to try things even if I felt like it wasn’t perfect.”

“Practicum has allowed me to expand my knowledge about not only child life but myself as well. I find myself to be so much more confident in myself that I can do things that may be challenging at times.”

As I read these comments in my students’ final journals, I felt a sense of renewal and hope. It is a tumultuous time to be a student in the child life field, and so it was encouraging and fulfilling to have these emerging professionals recognize their own growth. I hope they will be able to maintain this confidence and belief in their own resilience throughout their child life journeys. These comments also resonated with me as I considered how important this willingness to grow continues to be throughout our careers as child life professionals, as we strive as individuals to hone our clinical skills and as a field to establish and widen our scope of practice.

But what does personal and professional growth require? The articles in this Spring issue of ACLP Bulletin help answer different facets of that question.

Growth begins with passion and curiosity, exemplified by child life students who are eager to learn about and contribute to the profession. Through her pursuit of an independent study that truly extended beyond the classroom, Destiny England describes the valuable lessons learned about navigating hospital systems and interdisciplinary collaboration in addition to enhancing resources available to children and families. As professionals, passion and curiosity is sustained when we challenge ourselves to practice in new ways. This is seen as author Annah George reflects on the growth that resulted from transitioning to a new clinical area and through this year’s Mary Barkey Award winner, Shaindy Alexander, who continually inspires her colleagues as she expands child life practice into community support and virtual settings.

Growth for the profession also requires challenging the status quo and thinking creatively and compassionately about how to push the field forward. Two articles from ACLP committees encourage us to reconsider taken-for-granted norms. From the Volunteer Recognition and Engagement Committee, Sana Shooshtari brings us an interview with the co-chairs of the Pre-Internship Work Group that helps illuminate the effort and intentionality behind recent updates to the Pre-Internship Modules. Ruthie Charendoff, a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, provides a thought-provoking article about reconsidering rooming practice in ways that are gender-affirming and inclusive.

Growth is not about perfection. Instead, growth requires giving ourselves, and others, grace. The field of child life tends to attract high achieving personalities with a tendency toward perfectionism, and we hold ourselves to incredibly high standards. As Kristin Brown shares in her recounting of lessons learned over ten years of practice, “it’s okay to want to continue growing, to try new things, to step outside your comfort zone, and even to try something and decide you don’t like it.” Focusing on progress, not perfection, can help us overcome the paralysis induced by the fear of making a mistake.

The final requirement for growth is support. None of us is actually “self-made”; we depend on our peers, mentors, and community to nurture us as well as challenge us. For me, the article that illustrates this best is about this year’s Distinguished Service Award winner, Jill Koss. As a young child life specialist, I was able to blossom within the supportive environment created under her leadership. Knowing that Jill would always have my back, I grew in confidence to advocate for patients and families and ultimately for myself. This steady feeling of support and encouragement is one that I seek to emulate with my own students and colleagues so that they can feel confident to explore and to try new things and to grow.

As for the Bulletin Committee, we continue to grow and change as well. This issue I welcome Katie Walker and Stephanie Whitten into the newly created role of Editor. As experienced committee members, they will be available to provide more individualized author support at all stages of the writing process as well as lead some committee projects. We also welcome eight new committee members even as we bid farewell to those rolling off the committee after two (or more!) years of support. Did you know that ACLP Bulletin is produced almost entirely by volunteers? Other than our ACLP staff liaison, all of the editing, reviewing, and writing of articles is provided by child life professionals who volunteer their time and expertise. I am so grateful for all of you!

As always, I end by inviting you to consider writing for Bulletin. If you have an idea but aren’t sure where to start, please join Morgan and me for a writing workshop during Child Life Conference in June. Whether you want to write for Bulletin, your hospital newsletter, or an online outlet, we want to share what we’ve learned about crafting impactful professional pieces to communicate about child life practice. If you already have an article in mind, email us at

Shannon Dier, MS, CCLS