Hi, I’m Jessica and I’m a Certified Child Life Specialist. However, depending on the day, sometimes I present myself as a number of other job titles and responsibilities.
Some days I’m an educator for the child who is just diagnosed with diabetes and doesn’t understand all of the big words the dietician or physician is saying.
Other days, I’m an event planner creating a big Halloween party for the patients who will be stuck indoors rather than dressed up on the streets out with their friends trick-or-treating;
I’m an interior decorator for Christmas, making the halls of the pediatric unit look and feel more like home – more like Christmas.
Sometimes, I’m a mediator for the divorced parents of a child who is dying; both can hardly sit in the same room together but we strive to figure out how to tell the siblings and discuss what kinds of memory-making/legacy building they would like to have of their child after he/she passes.
I’m an art teacher for, especially, the younger children who just need a few crafts and something to do with their hands to help pass the time during their hospitalization.
I’m a negotiator for the child who refuses to have anyone touch him and it’s urgent that the nurses get an IV due to the child’s severe dehydration. I build quick rapport and as I develop trust with him, he allows me to talk to him about what the IV is used for and that ultimately, he’ll feel so much better once we can give his body some medicine…and maybe a small bribe that a Lego kit is waiting for him once we place the IV.
Sometimes I’m a “babysitter” for when we have no volunteers scheduled and a parent who’s been at the bedside all day needs a break for dinner. Of course! I won’t say no to baby snuggles!
Specifically, I’m a comedian for the child who is stuck at the hospital again for his chemotherapy and needs a little pick-me-up in the form of a couple jokes. He loves when I make him laugh with my, what he describes as, “miserable” dance skills.
Some days, I’m a counselor for the siblings trying to make sense of how their sister fell out of the tree and broke her arm. I provide support and someone to talk to as their sister is in surgery and their parents step away to grab a quick bite to eat before their daughter returns from the OR.
I’m a janitor for the times* that a 3-year-old happens to pee on me. Quick thinking and a roll of paper towels later and we’re back in business!
*has happened more than once!
Other times, I’m a detective for the times when Child Protective Services get involved and I have to be on high alert around parents and relatives of a child who has been admitted for broken bones that don’t seem to add up to the parents’ story of how that could have happened.
Lastly, I’ve been a coach/supervisor for students who are accepted into our hospital’s practicum program providing them the tools, support, and resources to succeed and become a fantastic child life specialist one day!
Pick up a few hats and be the best you can be today!