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child life practicum

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. Please note, we will not have a summer practicum for 2022, or winter/spring or fall for 2023. 

  • Fall 2022 practicum applications are due May 3, 2022 
  • Summer 2023 practicum applications are due January 5, 2023
  • Winter/spring 2024 practicum applications are due September 5, 2023

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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