During her five years as a pediatric nurse, Kana became more interested in learning about child development and the importance of psychosocial care for children and families. Eventually, she left her nursing job and moved to the United States to attend East Carolina University as a Child Life major in the College of Child Development and Family Relations. Finally on the path to achieving her career goals, she completed her internship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, OH, and became certified in 2008.
When Kana was starting out in the profession, she struggled to explain the role of a child life specialist to medical staff. In Japan, nurses perform some aspects of the child life role, providing psychosocial support in addition to medical care. Kana tried to educate nursing staff about “the different way of approaching a patient from a child’s point of view and their family’s point of view instead of just approaching from the medical point of view."
Japanese families generally show appreciation for child life services and the psychosocial care provided. For many reasons, it is challenging for a parent to explain medical treatment to their own child, and Kana says parents are grateful to have professional support. She notices that they are often pleasantly surprised to see a significant change in their child's attitude towards hospital experiences and procedures. Parents appreciate that the child life specialist is available to listen to their requests and concerns, and “the CCLS becomes the bridge to mediate between families and medical staff.” Kana is optimistic about the future of child life in Japan, and one sign of progress is that parents have begun requesting that a child life specialist be assigned to them.