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Child Life Practicum

Child Life and Expressive Therapies offers a six-week, 100-hour practicum experience. The practicum is offered during the summer semester beginning the first full week in June. This experience provides an introduction to the role of the child life specialist within the hospital setting. The goal of the practicum experience is to create the foundation needed for a successful transition into a formal child life internship.

Program objectives

Through observation, evaluation and partnership with the Child Life team, the student will:

  • Use theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom setting and implement into daily practice
  • Engage in opportunities that allow for increased communication skills with patients, families and members of the health care team
  • Plan and facilitate therapeutic play opportunities for the pediatric patient and his/her family
  • Observe the child life specialist during formal preparation sessions and common medical procedures
  • Collaborate and communicate with the multi-disciplinary health care team
  • Participate in experiences that will allow for continued ability to assess children (infant through adolescence) focusing specifically on the impact of pain and illness on the pediatric patient
  • Self-evaluate experiences and develop continued goals for learning
  • Participate in additional learning opportunities as appropriate


  • Weekly journal
  • Completion of comprehensive readings coinciding with bi-weekly modules
  • Observation and assessment of various child life interventions (e.g. healing environment, procedural support, preparation) for patients in each of the developmental stages
  • Plan and facilitate one group activity
  • Completion of developmental assessments
  • Self-evaluation and evaluation of experience

Minimum requirements

  • College level junior (completion of second semester of junior year) by practicum start date
  • Enrolled in child life or child development-related course of study
  • Minimum of an overall 3.0 GPA
  • Unofficial transcript (include a transcript from each institution attended)
  • Resume
  • Documentation of a minimum of 100 hours working with children and families in settings/capacities such as hospitals, day care facilities, camps, schools, sports, etc.
  • Proof of current immunization record, CPR certification and background check (required before start date)


Important information

  • Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • All applicants will be contacted regarding the status of their application after the reviewing process has been completed. Please do not inquire by phone or email about your application status before this time.
  • Applicants may be affiliated with a university/college; however, affiliation is not required to apply for the practicum experience.
  • Per the practicum standards of conduct, students are allotted one sick day throughout the six week experience. Additional missed days (e.g. vacation, employment) are strongly discouraged; however, national holidays are reserved as days off.
  • As we strongly believe that students should gain a plethora of experience, those who complete a Child Life Practicum at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin will not be eligible to apply for the internship program.

Deadlines and offer dates

  • Application deadline: Postmarked by February 15
  • Offer date: 3rd full week of March
  • Acceptance date: the following Tuesday
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