What is a Child Life Specialist? A Child Life Specialist is a highly trained professional who works with children, families, physicians, nurses, social workers and other therapists. Their goal is to make the hospital experience the best it can be for children and families. That means creating an environment that respects and incorporates the emotional well being of children and recognizes the family as part of the recovery process.
Christina is there in minutes; she had been at her son Isaiah's side, as she has for the past 8 years, often at TMC. Before Isaiah was born they found out that he, the youngest of five children, had Spina bifida, and Christina traveled to Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee so that he might have the very first in utero surgery to address his spinal problems. Christina speaks with joy about her son and her other four children and with conviction about the importance of TMC for Children's Child Life Specialists in making her family's hospital experience the best it can be. Christina retells how it was the Child Life Specialists who helped her husband and her to decide who would stay with Isaiah way back when the practice was only to have one parent stay overnight and their other young children needed a parent to take care of them. Now she says they let the whole family stay. How it was Child Life Specialists who reminded them to eat and to sustain themselves so that they could take care of Isaiah and his siblings. How the Child Life Specialists calmed and distracted Isaiah during procedures and taught his older brother techniques to calm himself before a procedure. That it was Jolene, who sat down with Christina and Bill's other four children when it became clear that Isaiah may not come home from the hospital and answered their questions. Christina describes the huge positive transition from a much more clinical setting eight years ago when they first came to TMC to the much more open environment that exists today in TMC for Children. Jolene backs Christina up saying that as the scientific evidence-based research came out demonstrating the importance of addressing the social, emotional and psychological well being - TMC responded.