What's a Child Life Specialist?

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It's every parent's nightmare to find out that his or her child has been diagnosed with an illness. But every year, countless children spend extended periods of time in hospital settings. While growing up in a medical facility is far from desirable, Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLSs) help to make the experience as positive -- and fun -- as possible. 

Read on to learn more about these special individuals and the role they play in a child's medical experience.

What's a Child Life Specialist?

Child Life Specialists are healthcare professionals who are trained in the areas of child development, child life, counseling and psychology, and have expertise in dealing with children's concerns and reactions to their illnesses and hospitalizations.

Child Life Specialists recognize and support each family's individuality, strengths and mechanisms for coping. They are members of the comprehensive healthcare team, and focus on promoting normal growth and development, and use play and other forms of communication to help reduce the stress of the healthcare experience for children and their families.

A Child Life Specialist can help you and your child understand and manage your healthcare experience through education, procedural preparation, medical play and other therapeutic activities.

The Child Life department also works with siblings and families to provide support and help them better understand the various components of hospitalization, illnesses or stressful hospital situations.

To learn more about Ochsner's Child Life services, click here.

What Services are provided by Child Life Specialists?

  • Preparation and accompaniment to tests, surgeries, heart catheterizations and other procedures
  • Pre-operative tours
  • Normalization of the hospital environment
  • Therapeutic medical play
  • Sibling support and education
  • Support for grief and bereavement issues
  • Pet therapy
  • Community outreach programs
  • Activities to continue normal growth and development in clinics, patient rooms and Child Life activity rooms
  • Medical, expressive and other therapeutic play
  • Coordination of special events, such as birthdays, holiday celebrations, entertainment and donations

In What Areas Do Child Life Specialists Work at Ochsner?

Child Life Specialists work in many areas of both the hospital and outpatient clinic settings. In each of these areas, Child Life Specialists plan individualized interventions for each patient and family.

Some of these departments include, but are not limited to:

  • Pediatric Inpatient Unit
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Merrill Hines Surgery Center at Ochsner Medical Center
  • Day of Surgery Center (DOSC)
  • Operating Room
  • Post Anesthesia Care Unit (Recovery)
  • Radiology
  • Cath Lab
  • EP Lab
  • Outpatient Ambulatory Care Center (Clinic)

To learn more about Ochsner's Child Life services, click here.

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