Tips on Landing a Child Life Practicum

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As the child life profession grows we are facing some challenges with not having enough internship placements for the amount of students that apply. It is becoming incredibly competitive, but students are giving up their goal of becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist.

I’m excited to share our guest blogger today, Ashley Bain from Peace, Hope and Play who has some great tips on landing a child life practicum, which will hopefully advance your chances for an internship spot.


Those in the child life field know that it is VERY competitive. One does their best to stand out amongst countless applicants. Many hours with healthy children, hospitalized children, unique experiences (Make-A-Wish, camps) and so on and so forth. But what else can one do to make themselves standout more during an internship process?


When looking into practicums two questions are frequently asked:

  1. How do you go about securing a practicum?
  2. What are the benefits of a practicum?  

First things first: don’t get overwhelmed when looking into practicums. Becoming overwhelmed causes unnecessary stress, unhealthy habits and a negative outlook on your current situation. Instead, do the following to make yourself less stressed and more organized:

  1. Make a list of the hospitals that you want to apply to (do this yourself! Don’t ask others for a list. Making your own list and doing your own research shows you what each hospital can offer and if it is truly a fit for YOU).
  2. Print each hospitals requirements out. This way you can mark off what you already have for each hospital.
  3. Remember to relax! You are doing the best you can.

Now onto the next step…


  • Have volunteer hours with hospitalized children/under a Certified Child Life Specialist. Each hospital may have a different amount of hours that must be met. Try to get 100 hours if possible.
  • Have volunteer hours with healthy children (childcare, church, camps etc.). Again some hospitals may have a different amount of hours that must be met. Try to get 100 hours if possible.
  • Have a good GPA (minimum 3.0 on a 4.0 scale)
  • Recommendation letters (could vary for each hospital)
  • Be affiliated with a university (some hospitals could take unaffiliated students).
  • Have completed some courses in child life, child development or other related studies. This could also vary for each hospital.
  • Make sure you check and recheck the hospitals websites. Sometimes a hospital may change their mind at the last second and choose not to offer a practicum. It is better to find out beforehand instead of receiving an email after the fact.

What are the benefits of a practicum?  

  • Observing Certified Child Life Specialist first hand in different areas of the hospital (ER, Peds, PICU, Oncology etc.)
  • Taking away new knowledge on what the practicum student observes.
  • Students continue to increase their knowledge of basic child life skills related to play, developmental assessment, and mixing child life theory into interventions with infants, children, teens and families. While volunteering sheds a little light on Child Life and what this team’s role is within the hospital, a practicum sets the stage for future plans, expectations and for an internship.
  • Having this amazing opportunity shows the individual if they are in the proper field.
  • Networking with child life professionals and making those rapports with other staff members, patients and families.
  • Having the opportunity to observe how the value of play is utilized to help the hospitalized child.
  • Prepares the student for the next step—a child life internship!

I hope this was helpful and encouraging to each of you and I hope you become successful in the field known as child life.

One final reminder: When you are in a rough spot and you don’t know if you will ever get through the struggles of finding a practicum or internship remember why you started and remember that giving up is not an option. You can do it!

To learn more about Ashley, you can follow her blog at Peace, Hope and Play

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Related Articles

Navigating the road to become a Certified Child Life Specialist: Tips & tricks from a child life student

The learning curve in a child life practicum

How to volunteer with child life

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