Q. What inspired you to be a child life specialist?
A. I originally thought I wanted to be a pediatrician and started my undergraduate work at The University of Alabama double majoring in biology and child development (pre-med). In one of the child development classes, I learned about child life and quickly realized the reasons I thought I wanted to be a doctor aligned more with being a child life specialist to get to provide emotional and psychosocial support to patients and families. I quickly changed my major to child development with the child life track and have had no regrets!
Q. Why did you want to serve on this committee?
A. My passion for coordinating the child life practicum and intern programs as the Education Coordinator at my hospital inspired me to want to join and participate in the Education and Training Committees and Internship Accreditation Oversight Committee. My passion to help the state of Texas continue to grow and gain even more networking opportunities inspired me to help lead the committee who founded the Texas Association of Child Life Professionals (TACLP) regional group and serve as President.
Q. What has been one of your most satisfying accomplishments with this committee?
A. As Chair of the Education and Training Committee, one of the most successful things we have done this year was made updates to the Common Internship Application to include a cover letter, goals and objectives and a common recommendation form in response to feedback from the membership (students, intern coordinators and academics) for the need for more consistency. The charge of this committee is to ensure that all three voices are heard and this project allowed us to show each group that we did hear their feedback and actually implemented change in response to it.
Q. What wisdom would you like to share with other child life professionals?
A. Wow! There's so much I would love to share. I always share with the students to "trust the process." I would share with professional child life specialists "to always remember the why in what you are doing." I say this not only to help us in advocating and to remind us that we sometimes have to help other healthcare providers understand why we are advocating for something, but knowing and remembering why you entered this field in the first place will help on those "harder" days when you feel defeated.
Q. Why would you recommend volunteering for ACLP?
A. It allows you to network and to help make recommendations and be a part of projects that truly make a difference and help to continue to advance our profession. It also allows for leadership opportunities through leading certain projects and even serving as Chair of Committees which can advance you personally/professionally as well.
Q. What is your go-to method of self-care?
A. Spending time with my family and my dog and being a Southern Girl from Alabama, it's watching and going to Alabama football games and the beach! I also encourage students and new professionals to make sure you are spending time with health children outside of the hospital setting so that you don't get "tunnel vision" to assume that all children are sick or going through hard, stressful and traumatic events. This can also be a great self care practice!
Q. What would surprise your peers to know about you?
A. That I was a HUGE tom-boy growing up (fishing, hunting, watching and playing sports).
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A. When I was volunteering in a school program at a children's hospital, I learned about the role of child life. As a teacher, I really enjoyed working with children and was fascinated by their growth and development. While deciding the direction for my master's degree, my hospital volunteer experiences working with individual children spoke to me. I want children to realize their purpose and to feel joy through play, socialization, and in life-long learning.
A. With a career change stepping out of teaching and into the medical field, I was seeking opportunities to advance my child life professional skills. The Professional Resources Subcommittee was a good fit, especially with the details of assessing and researching resources for the Resource Library. After serving as a member, I was invited to continue in service as chair-elect and chair on the Professional Resources Subcommittee. This opened the opportunity to collaborate with other committee chairs on the Professional Development Committee.
A. Being part of the team involved with relaunching the Resource Library was a rewarding experience. When I joined the Professional Resources Subcommittee, the work of the long-term project was well underway. However, there was worth in contributing towards a valuable database for ACLP members. In leading the Professional Resources Subcommittee, I partner with committee members and ACLP staff to maintain efforts to input identified resources and explore new channels to add resources. There are strong writers on the committee who submit articles for the ACLP Bulletin and post on the committee blog, which provides another means to select resources for the library.
A. Build and nurture the professional relationships that help you grow and thrive. There is always something new to learn, understand, and improve upon.
A. Connections. You meet, collaborate and create with people from a variety of places, widespread, while having the opportunity to contribute to our profession in meaningful ways. You also share the passion in the work of child life.
A. Running. I love running! It is great on a bad day or a good day. It gets me outside. Good way to be present with nature.
A. I am a decent poker player.
A. Like many, I stumbled upon child life while an undergraduate student. I quickly began volunteering at hospitals, worked as a respite counselor on the weekends, was an autism therapist, and spent weekends at summer camps geared towards youth who had cancer. I loved every minute I spent with all of these kids. Their vibrancy and love for life was contagious, and I wanted to surround myself with this type of energy.
A. While working on my master's degree, I got the "research bug." I quickly realized how much I loved not only learning about how to conduct a research study, but also conducting my own research studies. Therefore, joining the then Research and Scholarship Committee was a natural fit. I've stayed with this committee for quite some time and have seen how it has changed and more importantly grown!
A. The Research and Scholarship Committee (now the Scientific Advancement of Professional Practice Committee with several subcommittees) has cultivated a strong network of researchers and those dedicated to cultivating child life research.
A. Trust your journey. I worked as a CCLS for a couple years and then left my clinical work to pursue research full-time. Ten years later, I'm now back in the child life field at Hope for Henry Foundation where I've been able to combine my child life experience with my training as an evaluator and researcher.
A. You will develop an amazing network of like-minded child life specialists who are dedicated to advancing our profession.
A. Pedicure and gel manicure.
A. I have 10 siblings!
A. I felt drawn to the idea of helping pediatric patients with medical challenges, and I was much more interested in psychosocial & emotional well-being than in any other aspect of healthcare. Supporting that well-being felt so important and necessary to me. Plus, I felt that child life has the added challenge of being a profession that is, in some ways, still emerging. I was excited about that challenge and hopeful that I could do my part to help child life keep moving forward.
A. I love that the mentor program has a strong leadership development component, with a focus on supporting leadership growth in child life specialists who have all different amounts and types of experience. The need for that type of support and professional development really resonated with me.
A. I think that each year, we as a committee have "upped our game" in terms of both the intentionality of the mentor/mentee matching process and the quality of the curriculum. Seeing that evolution is really satisfying. We've also had the opportunity to facilitate leadership development content at ACLP conferences, and I'm particularly excited for what we are offering this year - a child life collaboration session titled "How to Create Your Personal Lens of Leadership." The session will be open to anyone attending conference, and I think it will provide an opportunity for some very valuable (and fun!) learning & dialogue for all.
A. Never stop learning, and learn from every person and every experience you can.
A. I am very grateful for the relationships with other child life professionals that I have gained through volunteering with ACLP, as well as all that I have learned from being a committee member and then a committee leader. Volunteering allows you to give to the profession, but you can gain so much, too.
A. Sleep, hydration, fresh air, and lots of Broadway theatre. (One of the many perks of living in New York City!)
A. Now that I have shared my self-care go-tos, this might not be a surprise - but I have made a hobby out of finding affordable theatre tickets and helping friends & family do the same. If anyone wants to talk theatre at conference, come find me! :)