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child life practicum

The child life practicum is currently inactive. Please check back for future dates. 

Dayton Children’s is pleased to offer a child life practicum for college students pursuing the child life profession. This practicum is a 140+ hour observational experience (2 days a week for 12 weeks; 3 rotations) that is designed for students who have or are currently obtaining a degree in child life or any other major that is approved by the Association of Child Life Professionals.

download application

Mail completed applications and the requested files in the application to:

Child Life Practicum Coordinator
Child Life Department
Dayton Children's Hospital
1 Children’s Plaza
Dayton, OH 45404

Questions regarding the practicum or application? Contact Katelyn Shellabarger.

prerequisities for applying to the child life practicum

  • Completed a minimum of 3 courses in child life or related coursework (see recommended coursework below)
  • Minimum junior level college status with a 3.0 or higher GPA
  • Completed a minimum of 50 hours of working with children in a hospital setting, medical fragile daycare, or camp for children with medical needs
  • Completed a minimum of 50 hours working with well children
  • Application packet must include:
    • Application
    • Resume
    • Unofficial transcripts
    • 2 letters of recommendation
    • Proof of work with children

practicum goals and objectives

  • To gain an introduction to the Child Life profession in general, and to become acquainted with the Child Life Department at Dayton Children’s
  • To have the opportunity to observe interactions with patients on a one-to-one basis and in group situations.
  • To experience an accepting, non-threatening environment to promote healthy interactions between child, staff, and family.
  • To gain an initial acquaintance with the needs of hospitalized children and to observe creative and flexible programming in meeting these needs.
  • To observe advocacy for children and families in their interaction with the health care system.
  • To see children prepared medical experiences through the use of books, medical equipment and play.

practicum responsibilities

  • Daily journal of hospital experiences
  • Weekly journal reading. Include short summary in your journal.
  • Plan and implement group activity time
  • Observation of procedures
  • Attend staff meetings, patient planning rounds, in-services
  • Developmental observations

potential observational experiences

  • Medical Play: Individual and group play experiences centered on a patient's hospitalization.
  • Preparation: Individual teaching and play experience provided to patients regarding specific medical treatments and procedures.
  • Coping and distraction: Techniques and activities offered to patients and families during hospitalization and specific medical experiences to assist with comfort and control.
  • Diversional and recreational play: Programming for normalization offered to patients and siblings throughout hospitalization.

recommended reading list

These books are available from the Association of Child Life Professionals or can be ordered through

  • Gaynard, L. et al. (1990). Psychosocial Care of Children in Hospitals: A clinical practice manual from the ACCH child life research project. Bethesda, MD: Association for the Care of Children's Health.
  • Bolig, R. Mahan, C. (2005) Meeting Children's Psychosocial Needs Across the Healthcare Continuum Austin, Texas: Pro.Ed.
  • Thompson, Richard. (2009) The Handbook of Child Life, A Guide for Pediatric Psychosocial Care, Charles C, Thomas, Publisher, Springfield, IL

recommended course work

  • Child Life - Child Development
  • Family Development
  • Human Development
  • Family Dynamics
  • Psychology
  • Counseling
  • Sociology
  • Therapeutic Recreation
  • Death & Dying
  • Ethics
  • Cultural Diversity (courses in world religions or that pertain to a single culture do not fall into this category)
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

We would encourage you complete a Course Work Review Application through the Association of Child Life Professionals website

contact us

To contact our child life department please call us at 937-641-3303 or send us an email.

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