Erikson prepared her to help children process complex experiences in a hospital setting.

“Erikson was a rigorous but worthwhile experience. The focus on content, experience, and self-reflection was unlike any other program I explored. Along with high expectations for students, there was a high level of support and encouragement from faculty and staff.”

During a visit to the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital in 2011, Regan Shaw saw firsthand how a child life specialist, who also happened to be an Erikson graduate, worked with her nephew in the emergency department. The experience convinced her to pursue a similar career, and the next year, she enrolled at Erikson.

In 2014, Shaw graduated prepared to change the lives of young children and their families. As luck would have it, her first job was at that same hospital in South Carolina. She leaned on the tools and knowledge Erikson provided her as she started her career in what she says can be a challenging field.

“I find myself most grateful for my Erikson experience during difficult moments at work,” Shaw says. “In a hospital setting, you encounter every type of person, family, and situation—the good, bad, and tragic. In those moments, I’m able to fully assess these situations, quickly reflect on my own perspective, and decide the best course of action as a professional.”

Shaw is now a Certified Child Life Specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. There, she helps children and families process their thoughts and feelings during trying medical experiences involving sickness, accidents, disease, or even terminal illnesses. One technique she uses with children is therapeutic play.

“We bring toys to almost every child,” Shaw says. “You see children who just woke up from surgery or just got to the hospital after being in an accident, and one of the first things they want to do is play. They are way more resilient than adults when it comes to healing.”