In 2016, when Allie was accepted as an intern at Advocate Children’s Hospital, Lori excitedly packed her a distraction bag with some of her favorite items. The fact that Allie has “embraced the magic of the key chain” is a source of both maternal and professional pride. Like her mom, Allie found her first child life position at the same hospital where she interned. She’s currently part of a department of sixteen child life specialists, and they also have a volunteer coordinator, two music therapists, an art therapist, a school coordinator, and a Chicago Public School teacher. Allie is the evening child life specialist, and her focus is on the 69-bed inpatient unit, which includes a cardiac specialty floor, a hematology/oncology floor, a PICU, and a PCICU. She also supports the children of adult patients on a referral basis.
Like her mom, Allie regularly assists with blood draws because of her hospital’s policy to have the phlebotomy department page child life before going into any pediatric patient’s room. She also supports patients receiving IVs, echocardiograms, chest tubes, lumbar punctures, nasogastric tubes, and PICC lines. Allie loves that every day is busy and different. Recently, she went from providing support during three back-to-back blood draws to medical play and preparation for a computed tomography scan to a wound dressing change and then a chest tube removal—all in a matter of hours. The profession’s reputation has changed significantly since Lori first started, when she was often dismissed as a ‘play lady.’ Allie relies heavily on the nursing staff since she is one person caring for many patients. She collaborates with other members of the healthcare team, and they communicate where she is most needed so she can use her child life skills to best support children and families.