Family and Child Life Services Department Offers Student Practicum Experience

A practicum is the first step in a student’s journey to become a child life specialist. Although not required by the Association of Child Life Professionals, the practicum is a highly valued experience for the student, as it provides the opportunity for the student to observe and learn from practicing child life specialists. A practicum is a unique opportunity that allows students to discover more about the child life profession and the role of a child life specialist within the medical team without providing direct patient care.

Practicum Requirements

Qualified applicants should meet the following criteria by the beginning of their practicum:

  1. Currently majoring in Child Life or have a concentration in Child Life.
  2. Currently affiliated with an established child life academic program.
  3. Complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience with children in a pediatric hospital; these hours should be in addition to hours required by your course work or university.
  4. Previous experience with typically developing, healthy children or adolescents
  5. Enrolled at a university/college that has a current affiliation contract with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center*

*If your university does not have current affiliation contract with University Hospitals, please contact us as soon as possible so that the affiliation process can be initiated.

Practicum Student Experience

Practicum students are assigned to be with a certified child life specialist who serves as their preceptor on a rotating basis for shadowing, processing and instruction. This allows students to shadow and observe child life clinical interventions with a variety of patient populations and needs.

The clinical rotations are scheduled in advance for a total 16 consecutive weeks (128 hours). A supervisor is also assigned to the student for the duration of the practicum to facilitate weekly meetings for discussion and processing relating to clinical assignments and experience. There is no fee for practicum students.

Practicum Selection Process

Child life practicums are highly competitive. To begin the process, students must submit their application before the deadline. Late applications will not be accepted. Upon receipt of the completed application packet, qualified students are considered for a first-round interview. The Student Committee will then invite a smaller group of applicants for a second-round interview.

Selection of practicum students is based on: grades in required classes, letters of recommendations, essay, personal interview(s), and a reflective exercise.

Apply for Practicum

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Student Program follows the application deadlines and offer dates suggested by the Association of Child Life Professionals. Please see childlife.org for further details.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Child Life Practicum, contact the Child Life Student Program Coordinator, Erin Whipple, MA, CCLS at or 440-617-4847.