The Value of Certified Child Life Specialists:
Direct and Downstream Optimization of Pediatric
Patient and Family Outcomes


Jessika Boles - high res (2)

Jessika Boles, PhD, CCLS  

Jessika is a Certified Child Life Specialist and team lead at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. In her current positions and her prior tenure at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Dr. Boles has served infants, children, adolescents, and young adults with chronic, life-threatening, or terminal illnesses and injuries. The diversity of her educational background - a bachelor of arts in Religious Studies from Rhodes College, a master's of education in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt University, and a doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Memphis - shapes her clinical work and research, both of which aim to break down the discursive barriers that can limit children's understanding of and participation in their healthcare experiences. Her publications and presentations similarly address topics such as children’s involvement in healthcare research, their conceptions of abstract constructs such as legacy and loss, and the ways in which they access and respond to medical information. Additionally, Dr. Boles is a former board member of the Association of Child Life Professionals and regularly contributes her time to institutional initiatives for improving bereavement care, increasing patient mobility, and mitigating trauma and distress in pediatric critical care environments.  

Camille Fraser (1)

Camille Fraser, MS, CCLS, CIMI 

Camille is a Child Life Specialist II at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Family Science at Lipscomb University. In her clinical role, she works in the pediatric cardiology department providing services to the outpatient cardiology clinic, pediatric cardiac intensive care unit, and cardiac step-down unit. Camille has helped lead both unit-specific and institution-wide initiatives to improve bereavement support, facilitate the formation of infant attachment, and enhance sensory support measures to aid in long-term coping and regulation. She has held previous child life positions working in acute care and PRN roles. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in family relations from Lipscomb University and a Master of Science degree in child life from Bank Street College of Education.  

Katherine Bennett (1)

Katherine Bennett, MEd, CCLS

Katherine has worked as a Certified Child Life Specialist at Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital since 2001. She has worked with children and families in the areas of operative surgery, community outreach/education, PICC, inpatient medicine with all age groups, and in the burn center. Currently, she serves as the educator for Child Life & Volunteer Services, planning and coordinating the clinical training experiences for emerging child life professionals, onboarding new employees, working with the department's clinical advancement program and providing education about the needs of children in healthcare settings to colleagues both in and outside the Vanderbilt community. She has written and presented at international conferences and in several published outlets about such topics as medical play and its impacts, developmental theory applied to hospitalized children, and teaching child life in the clinical and university settings. 

Maile Jones (1) 

Maile Jones, MEd(c), CIMI 

Maile is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Education degree in Applied Child Studies at Vanderbilt University, where her coursework and clinical experiences have focused on pediatric healthcare. After obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Health and Wellness from Tulane University, Maile spent a year in Australia working for the Starlight Children’s Foundation to expand her knowledge in international child life practice. The diversity of her experiences both locally and internationally have shaped her research interests in understanding how children, adolescents, and caregivers cope with stress and adversity in their lives. Maile currently works on several research projects including examining the effect of group medical play interventions on children’s anxiety in the preoperative waiting area, and investigating the legacy perceptions described by pediatric patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Her publications and presentations similarly include the importance of play in healthcare settings, pediatric patient and caregiver perceptions of legacy, and the ways in which children’s anxiety level and self-reported fear are influenced by medical play interventions.

Jenna Dunbar (1)

Jenna Dunbar, MEd(c), CIMI 

Jenna is a graduate student in the Applied Child Studies program at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development pursuing an emphasis in pediatric healthcare, and a specialization in poverty and intervention. She will graduate with her M.Ed. in May 2020 and is currently completing her child life internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Using her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, professional experience at both large and small magazines and in advertising, as well as her present and evolving experience in pediatric psychosocial care, Jenna incorporates creativity and effective communication into all aspects of her work. She often employs her nontraditional path to child life to formulate unique interventions and treatment strategies for pediatric patients and their families, applying her well-rounded knowledge of the ways in which adversity, poverty, and marginalization in childhood impact development. Jenna maintains involvement in research and has been involved in quality improvement initiatives at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt that address the influences of child development and early adversity in pediatric healthcare, such as the study of how legacy and loss are conceptualized by pediatric patients and their families, as well as improving the treatment of newborns exposed to opioids in utero and procedures for diagnosing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). 

Ashlie Woodburn (1)

Ashlie Woodburn, MEd, CCLS, CIMI 

Ashlie is a Certified Child Life Specialist working at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and serving the pediatric cardiology population. Ashlie has experience implementing a wide range of child life interventions that meet the needs of diverse patients and families across outpatient clinic, inpatient acute and critical care settings. Ashlie is particularly interested in meeting the developmental needs of infants with chronic medical conditions. Ashlie has completed certification as an infant massage instructor and has worked to implement programs to increase the utilization of child life support during infant procedures and encourage developmentally appropriate sensory support in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Her academic training includes Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Family and Human Development from Arizona State University and a Master of Education degree in Child Studies from Vanderbilt University. 

Mary Ann Gill, MEd(c)

Mary Ann is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, where she is pursuing a Master of Education in Applied Child Studies with a concentration in Pediatric Healthcare. While completing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at St. Mary's College of Maryland, Mary Ann spent several summers working at the Center for Courageous Kids, a residential camp for children with serious illnesses. Her diverse professional experiences there, in the special education field, and at Flying Horse Farms, another medical specialty camp, have shaped her interests in teaching emotional literacy, incorporating mindfulness into coping skills education, providing adaptive care for children with developmental disabilities, and supporting adolescents and emerging adults through healthcare transitions. Other publications, presentations, and research experiences include projects related to sibling support, therapeutic camp programs, and behavioral interventions in pediatric endocrinology. In the spring of 2020, she is completing a child life internship at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.  

Annie Duplechain (1)

Anne Duplechain, MEd(c)

Anne is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University pursuing her Master of Education degree in Applied Child Studies, with a concentration in pediatric healthcare. After completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education at Texas Christian University, Annie served children and their families around the world through humanitarian work in Central America, Africa, and Asia. She then returned to Texas to teach in a Title I school but felt a continued passion for providing psychosocial support to children and families in healthcare settings.  In her graduate studies, with aspirations to become a child life specialist in a critical care environment, Annie has concentrated her coursework, research, and service on best practices for bereavement programs and the ways in which child life and spiritual care can partner to provide holistic, patient-and-family-centered care. She has published and presented on this work at national and regional conferences for a wide range of stakeholder audiences to provide multidisciplinary clinicians with evidence-based approaches for ameliorating negative psychological sequelae associated with hospitalization and loss. After completing her internship, Annie will pursue certification and continue to establish her identity as a child life specialist.   

Erin Munn (2) 

Erin Munn, MS, CCLS 

Erin is a Child Life Specialist III at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, with twenty-five years of experience as a Certified Child Life Specialist. Over her fifteen years at Johns Hopkins Children’s Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland and nine years at Vanderbilt, Erin has served children and families across a wide range of inpatient and outpatient areas - cardiology, critical care, pre-surgery, burn/trauma, and specialty clinics – as well as her current role with a quality improvement initiative focused on opioid-exposed newborns and their mothers. Throughout her career, she has maintained a commitment to the professional development of child life students and staff, serving as co-chair of the Internship Task Force for the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) and developing standardized curriculum modules and a supervisor manual for child life internship programs. In addition to numerous presentations at conferences in the United States, Erin has been an invited speaker for conferences and education series in New Zealand, the Philippines, and in the Balkans. Erin has been an active member of ACLP since 1995 and is a former President of the organization; most recently, she was named as the recipient of the Mary Barkey Clinical Excellence Award to acknowledge her exemplary child life care and high level of clinical skill.  

Katy Hoskins (1) 

Katy Hoskins, CCLS 

Katy is a Certified Child Life Specialist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN. Katy's interests and advocacy centers around infant mental health, non-pharmacological pain management/procedural support for infants, prenatal psychosocial support for parents and siblings in Maternal Fetal medicine, preterm developmental needs, and family-centered end of life care. Katy has been a child life specialist for four years with previous clinical experience in the emergency department and inpatient neurology. Katy was instructed and mentored by Dr. Cara Sisk, Ph.D. at Tennessee Tech University and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology with a concentration in Child Life. Katy serves on many hospital committees, including chair of the NICU Bereavement Committee, and is also an ACLP Bulletin committee member. 

Child Life Profession