Child Life Education

Please Note

We will not be accepting applications for the spring internship. We apologize for this inconvenience but please understand that we are hopeful to return to normal in 2021. Thanks for your understanding and we wish you well.

Child Life Services at Children’s Hospital addresses the emotional, social, educational and recreational needs of hospitalized children and adolescents. As recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, child life programs utilize developmentally appropriate activities to minimize stress and anxiety and to foster positive feelings about health care.

The profession’s tools of the trade include everything from lip balm-scented face masks and bubbles to explanations about an upcoming procedure that a child can understand. During “medical play,” a child life specialist might help a child give an IV to a puppet in order to show how the straw-like tube delivers medicine to the body. In an operating room, they might show a patient how changing his breathing can make the numbers and lines on the monitor beside him fluctuate.

“Child Life and Family Studies” is its own college discipline, and all specialists have either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in the subject or related subject, such as psychology, sociology or therapeutic recreation. Specialists must also take additional classes including medical terminology and anatomy and physiology, as well as complete a practicum and a clinical internship. They must also pass the certification exam, given by the Child Life Council, as well as be re-certified every five years.

Children’s Hospital offers child life practicum opportunities and internships to individuals who meet certain criteria.

The goal of the opportunities within Child Life Services is to work as a member of the health care team to help provide for the total needs of pediatric patients and their families. The department seeks to minimize the anxiety and stress experienced by hospitalized children, and to encourage adaptive coping skills. Staff work to promote the child’s normal growth and development while in the health care setting.

The Responsibilities of Child Life Services include:

  • Providing opportunities for therapeutic play
  • Preparing children and parents emotionally for hospitalization, surgery and medical procedures
  • Providing emotional support to patients and families
  • Providing developmental assessment and interventions
  • Advocating the patients’ point of view to other health care staff
  • Encouraging an environment that is receptive to children

The primary areas covered by Child Life Services include Infant, Toddler and Preschool Inpatient Unit, School Age/Adolescent Inpatient Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic, Outpatient Pediatric Clinic, Outpatient Surgery, Children’s Emergency Center, and diagnostic areas. Members of the child life practicum and internships become part of the health care team, working towards comprehensive care and are expected to uphold the policies of GHS.

Practicum Program

Child Life Services is committed to providing a practicum experience for those individuals that wish to pursue a child life internship. This practicum experience allows students to learn through reading, observing, and interacting. The practicum student can expect to gain knowledge from all of these different interactions as well as those with certified child life specialists. The practicum experience will also allow the student to apply developmental theory while working with children and families as well as integrate knowledge and theory into clinical interactions.

The practicum curriculum involves both clinical and non-clinical requirements. We require students to read required readings, reflect on experiences in daily journals, plan activities, complete an assignment about a diagnosis and perform developmental assessments.

The practicum student must complete a minimum of 120 hours.

Practicum placements are unpaid positions and do not guarantee future admission into the internship program or employment at GHS Children’s Hospital.

Specific Goals and Objections of the Child Life Practicum:

  • Become familiar with the child life profession
  • Recognize the value of play in the health care setting
  • Learn to plan and facilitate a variety of activities for children and families in the health care setting
  • Develop communication skills with health care professional as well as children and families
  • Recognize developmental, emotional, psychosocial and medical needs of children and families in the health care setting
  • Gain knowledge of medical terminology, diagnosis, and procedures
  • Begin to develop professional attitudes, growth and maturity by functioning as a member of the health care team


  • Minimum of 15 hours of related coursework (child life, education, child development, human development, expressive therapies, psychology, recreational therapy)
  • GPA of 3.0
  • 100 hours of fieldwork, working directly with children (hospital volunteer experience beneficial)

The practicum will be scheduled during the summer months of May, June, July or August. Start and end dates are flexible.

Practicum Requirements

  • Completed practicum application
  • Academic transcripts (student copy is acceptable)
  • Two letters of recommendation (at least one must be from someone who supervised and/or observed you interacting with children)
  • Professional resume
  • Documentation of hours working with children and/or hospitalized children

Practicum Deadlines

  • Application Deadline: January 19
  • Interviews: February
  • Application Notifications by: 4th Tuesday in February
  • Applicant Acceptance of Practicum position: within 24 hours of offer

Internship Program

The Child Life Services internship program consists of 16 weeks and 640 hours of clinical experience under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). These child life specialists have at least 4,000 hours of paid experience as a CCLS and are precepted by the internship coordinator who has previously served as a child life preceptor and has more than 8,000 hours of paid experience as a CCLS.

The internship coordinator works with the Child Life Supervisor to maintain continuity throughout the program. Our internship is an intensive experience as we require weekly readings and assignments as well as clinical time with patients and families.

We require students to complete a child life practicum prior to applying for our child life internship.

We encourage students to also complete a course on medical terminology, anatomy and/or physiology prior to participating in the internship program.

Students are also required to submit a 2019 Eligibility Assessment form and any necessary Course In Progress verification forms.

During the internship program, our interns complete at least 2 rotations: one inpatient and one outpatient. Occasionally, our students complete a mini rotation in an area of interest.

We also try to expose our interns to programs that serve children and families both within the health system as well as in the Greenville community. These site visits allow our interns to observe children and families in a variety of settings.

Interview Process

The interview process will occur in two parts after review of all applications. Candidates will be selected and notified regarding the interview process.

For the first part, we will conduct phone interviews. From these applicants, we will conduct a second round of in-person interviews. Candidates will be expected to travel to our site for the in-person interview if they live within 300 miles of our hospital. If they live beyond 300 miles, a phone/skype interview will be scheduled.

Internship Application Deadlines

We only offer internships in the spring and fall.

Internship Session

Application Deadlines

Initial Offer Dates

Acceptance Dates

2nd Offer Date


September 5

2nd Tuesday
of October

Following Wednesday

Following Thursday


March 15

1st Tuesday
of May

Following Wednesday

Following Thursday

Internship Requirements

  • Verification of a completed child life practicum program
  • Completed application
  • Documentation of 150 hours of work with children in a medical setting
  • Documentation of 150 hours of work with children in a non-healthcare setting
  • Documentation of 50 hours of work with children in a stressful situation
  • Professional resume
  • Official transcript (student copy acceptable)
  • Personal recommendations: Please use the recommendation form that is part of the Child Life Common Internship Application. We ask that one recommendation come from a professor and one from someone who has observed your work with children.
  • Submission of 2019 Eligibility Assessment through Association of Child Life Professionals
  • Interview with the Child Life Team

Association of Child Life Professionals

Interested in working with other Child Life Organizations?