A Child Life Student's View of the Profession

Child life is a growing field and we’re seeing the profession expand into more areas like disaster relief, private practice, and assisting during traumatic events. Even so, it’s still a very competitive field and more individuals are studying to become child life specialists. With this, we hope that there will be a continuous increase in the amount of avenues that aspiring child life specialists can utilize their skills. Here’s one child life student’s perspective:

Photo provided by Sydney Goudie

Photo provided by Sydney Goudie

Sydney Goudie is a senior at Louisiana Tech University studying family and child studies with a concentration in child life. She first learned about child life the summer before sixth grade when she had surgery on her leg at Scottish Rite Hospital. Understandably, she was very scared of the hospital and the upcoming procedure. It was there that she had a team of child life specialists to help her through her surgery, and with their help, she made it through with a wonderful hospital experience. That experience, along with her interest in the medical field and working with children, led to her interest in child life.

If you’re thinking about pursuing child life, there are many colleges and universities out there that have wonderful child life programs; it just depends on what best suits you. Sydney says, “I was looking for an affordable college with a strong child life program and found Louisiana Tech. I found out that Tech’s child life program was run by Mrs. Anita Pumphrey, who is very connected to Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) and other child life specialists around the country.”

In order to become a certified child life specialist, there’s a required amount of internship hours needed on top of all the coursework. Sydney had a practicum at The Children’s Hospital at University Health in Shreveport which she loved. “I got to learn and see several different procedures and work with many children with different diagnoses. This experience really helped me enhance my medical knowledge and allowed me to see what kinds of distraction or teaching could be used for different situations.” She also mentions that her favorite part about being a child life student is learning about diagnoses and procedures.

When asked about her best advice she has for fellow child life students, she says, “Use your free time to your advantage. Find something you enjoy doing or a weak point in your child life experience (a certain age you haven’t worked with or certain population). Work on your internship hours.” During Sydney’s spare time, she’s busy being the president of LA Tech’s Child Life Student Association, looking up child life manipulatives, and playing around with augmented reality tools. She’s also been very interested in legacy building activities and believes in their importance for families. When she was seven, her older sister died suddenly and her family didn’t have any opportunity for such activities. “I constantly wish that we had some kind of, for lack of a better word, souvenir of my sister. I believe this will be my niche in my future career as a child life specialist because I want to advocate for legacy building and allow for families to have some kind of bittersweet memory from that time, something that may not lessen the difficulty of the situation, but may help with coping later.”

Sydney states that the most challenging part about being a child life student is the reactions of other students to her major. Many people on her campus are STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) majors and have never heard of child life. Thinking it’s easy or trivial, they look down on the work because they don’t know what it is. On the whole, however, she believes the profession is becoming more well-known. “I am used to describing my future profession to others all the time. However, recently I’ve had to describe the role of a child life specialist a lot less. I’ll mention that I’m studying to be a child life specialist and people have actually told me that they know what child life specialists are.”

We hope this trend continues where the public becomes more aware of the child life profession and why it’s so important and meaningful for the wellbeing of kids and families. Let’s continue to advocate for child life in all areas possible!

The LA Tech’s Child Life Student Association is currently looking to make connections with other child life students and organizations or companies that supply child life supplies. If there are people that are interested, they can reach out on Instagram, Facebook, or email latechchildlife@gmail.com.