Child-Life Specialist

 

DEBBIE HEMA

Child-Life Specialist - Intermountain Health Care

 

With a Bachelor's in Human Development (Child Development emphasis) in 1997 and a Master degree in Marriage, Family, & Human Development in 2005, Debbie is one well-qualified bubble blower, mother, and advocate for children.

 

What advice would you give students interested in this occupation?

 

Being a child life specialist is very rewarding but it also can be emotionally taxing. Professional burnout, compassion fatigue, and the struggle to gain respect from clinical staff who do not fully understand the service is definitely real. Even though child life services are invaluable to the well-being of children, the sad reality is that it is not a service that produces revenue for a hospital and sometimes healthcare administration responds by cutting funding to child life programs and subsequently child life positions. As a result, child life is a field that is saturated with very many qualified individuals but not nearly enough job positions, making opportunities for internships and employment highly competitive. 
Students who are very interested in pursuing eventual employment in child life should do all they can to make themselves marketable by volunteering in formal settings with children and completing practicum or other related experiences as they begin the certification process laid out by the child life council. More information can be found at www.childlife.org

How did BYU prepare you to start a non-profit foundation?

 

To answer this, I will quote Child Life Council: 
Child life specialists are child development experts who work to ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in health care settings and other challenging environments. They promote effective coping through play, self-expression activities, and age-appropriate medical preparation and education. As advocates of family-centered care, child life specialists work in partnership with doctors, nurses, social workers and others to meet the unique emotional, developmental and cultural needs of each child and family.