Skip to Main Content

A Career in Child Life Can Be a Life-Changing Experience

More and more, the medical field is recognizing the immense value of child life, a profession devoted to supporting children and families facing hospitalizations and medical issues. The Association of Child Life Professionals says, “Certified Child Life Specialists, as psychosocial healthcare professionals with focused training in child development, family systems, and evidence-based supportive interventions, are indispensable members of high-caliber healthcare teams.”1 They “create and maintain an experience and culture within pediatric healthcare that others cannot.”1

A personal, purposeful perspective

Within medical settings, children and families can benefit tremendously from support that’s individually focused, and that reflects their specific situation. By creating a personal connection and journeying with a child and family through their health care experience, a child life specialist helps reduce anxiety and stress, advocates on behalf of patients, assists in comprehending and identifying goals, provides diagnosis-specific medical education and much more. Engaging in a direct, one-to-one relationship helps children and their families better understand what’s happening to them. With this perspective, they can more successfully engage and interact with their care plan and increase the likelihood of achieving positive outcomes.

A longer-term impact

“There is also an even bigger purpose here,” says Erikson Child Life Program Senior Instructor Jennifer Kemp Berchtold. “In the moment, we reduce the trauma of an overwhelming situation. In the big picture, these children grow into adults without medical fear, empowered in their own care.” The impact of the work has a ripple effect. Erikson alum (MSCD ’17) and Certified Child Life Specialist Dana Thornquist has seen it happen. “I love what I do more than ever. My profession allows me to help kids in the hospital understand their diagnosis, express emotions and positively cope long term, which in turn allows them to succeed within their homes, schools and community.”

A shifting cultural reality

It is essential for practitioners to be culturally responsive to the needs of children and families of different backgrounds, traditions and values. At Erikson, we prepare you to reflect on and think about the uniqueness of each young patient and their family. Your own insights and experiences are a valuable part of the work as well. Together, the ability to understand both yourself and the families you serve increases the strength of your relationship, a critical component of effective practice.

A truly rewarding career

The need is out there. Career opportunities are growing. And Erikson is proud to foster the next generation of child life practitioners to meet the demand. With a deep body of child development knowledge and important skills that are the core of child life practice, you’ll be prepared to assist your young patients and families in ways that can be life changing — for them and for you. Earn your master’s in child development with a concentration in child life, and step into a role that can transform the future.

Learn more about Erikson’s master’s in child development with child life concentration


1“The Value of Certified Child Life Specialists: Direct and Downstream Optimization of Pediatric Patient and Family Outcomes.”, Association of Child Life Professionals, Full Report, January 2020

Join the Erikson family with monthly news + events updates shared by academics, community members, and families.

Featured News & Press

Explore More Erikson News & Press

See All News & Press