The Top 5 Reasons You Should Care About Child Life

October 24, 2013
Topics: Child Life

Can you imagine how hard it is to be a child with a urological problem?

Kids who come to the Riley Urology clinic often have to undergo invasive procedures on their path to better health. My main role as their Child Life Specialist is to prepare them and support them.

We know how important the little things are to a child who is scared or hurting.

Here are some of the other reasons Riley parents appreciate what Child Life Specialists do for their kids:

1. We help kids celebrate small victories.

I once had a 7-year-old patient in for a urodynamics procedure which involved placing a catheter. He was very talkative and energetic at first, but as soon as he changed clothes and sat on the table he became visibly upset.

We practiced deep breathing to relax, and we talked about his love for Spiderman. At one point during the procedure, he exclaimed, "I did it, I did it!" with a smile on his face. He was so proud of himself!

2. We make hard things easier.

Some children want to know every detail of their procedure before we start. Others want to know very little.

I use kid-friendly language and real medical equipment to help prepare our patients before procedures. While the procedure is underway, I use toys, books stickers, bubbles and an iPad to provide distraction.

For kids who need surgery, I work closely with our Nurse Practitioner in our pre-op clinic to ensure patients and families are prepared. This can include a tour of the inpatient urology unit and day surgery, medical play with a urology doll and equipment, decorating a surgery mask, and talking about anything surgery or hospital related.

3. We are following our hearts.

When I was a sophomore in high school, a classmate of mine was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. I remember sitting in our school auditorium listening to this classmate's Child Life Specialist talk to our school about her diagnosis and how we could support her when she returned to school.

It wasn't until I was in college that I looked back on that day and realized how much of an impact it made. As I began researching Child Life more, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I also worked at Bradford Woods (home of Camp Riley and other medical specialty camps) for a summer. This amazing camp introduced me to many Riley kids which also fueled my passion for Child Life.

4. We need your support to do our jobs.

Insurance doesn't pay for Child Life Specialists. Donors do.

Without your support, we would not be able to help Riley kids and families. With even more support, we could add more staff members and increase our coverage and services.

5. We love your kids.

It is such a privilege to work at Riley Hospital. I love finding the successes in stressful situations, and empowering patients to positively cope through procedures.

Most of all, I love watching the kids grow up! All of these kids are amazing.

It is an honor to help them through the difficult times in their lives.

Do you have an example of a Child Life Specialist who made a difference for your family? We would love to hear it! Share your story below in our comments section.

Megan Ali

Megan is a Certified Child Life Specialist who has worked at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health for the past 8 years. The newlywed grew up in Crown Point, graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Studies and completed an internship at Riley Hospital. Megan currently works in the Riley Urology Clinic. Riley’s Pediatric Urology department consistently ranks among the top 5 in the nation, and is a center for excellence in reconstructive urologic surgery, with the largest such pediatric program in the world.

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