Child Life Practicum Frequently Asked Questions

What is a child life practicum at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan (CHM)?

A practicum is an introduction to the role of a child life specialist. A practicum student learns the importance of play and how to interact and build relationships with patients and their families in a hospital setting. The practicum consists of planning and facilitating creative projects for patients in the activity centers, providing bedside interactions for patients, and observing Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS).

How many hours is a practicum?

120 hours; 10 hours per week for 12 weeks

What is expected of a practicum student?

  • Be motivated to learn
  • Ask questions
  • Complete all assignments in a timely manner
  • Document your hours
  • Provide bedside sessions/interactions with patients
  • Observe child life specialists
  • Plan and facilitate weekly activities for the activity centers
  • Attend weekly meetings with practicum supervisors
  • Complete weekly journals
  • Complete a special project

What is the weekly breakdown of CHM’s practicum?

  • Three hours in the activity centers
  • Three hours doing bedside activities
  • Three hours shadowing a child life specialist
  • One hour meeting with supervisors

After I complete a practicum at CHM, can I continue to volunteer there?

Yes, it is encouraged.

What is the difference between a practicum and an internship?

Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s (CHM) practicum is 120 hours opposed to an internship which is a minimum of 480 hours. An internship is full time (40 hours/week). Practicum students have observation opportunities; whereas, internships offer hands-on experiences allowing students to learn and facilitate clinical assessment and intervention skills. An internship also consists of several rotations and documentation of patient interactions. Internships are offered internationally. Most internships require volunteer hours before applying.

How will a practicum benefit me in the future?

The experience you gain in a practicum will prepare you for your internship by increasing your comfort level of working in a hospital setting and with hospitalized children and their families. Practicum students begin to assess various developmental and ability levels, are able to choose age appropriate toys/activities, and learn how to work with the interdisciplinary team. The experience will also help you determine whether child life is the field for you and obtain volunteer hours that are necessary to apply for internships.


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