Child Life Specialists

Child Life Specialist Playing With Young Girl

Child Life Specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families cope with health care experiences. All child life specialists have completed clinical training, hold a minimum bachelor's or master's degree, and are certified through The Association of Child Life Professionals.

Child life specialists minimize stress and anxiety of hospitalization through:

Preparation & Procedural Support 

  • Enhance patients understanding of medical procedures by utilizing developmentally appropriate language and teaching aids to describe the typical sequence of events and sensory information
  • Support can be provided before, during and/or after medical procedures

Individualized Coping Plans

  • Collaborate with patients and families to customize plan to maximize coping during health care experiences
  • Identify alternative ways to promote pain management
  • Help patients develop ways to cope with fear, anxiety, separation and adjustment to the health care experience

Legacy Building

  • Bridge the gap between home and hospital by documenting developmental milestones, birthdays and holiday celebrations

Diagnosis Education

  • Use play, developmentally appropriate language and teaching aids to increase patients understanding of illness, injury or diagnosis

Pill Swallowing Education

  • Teach pill swallowing skills for patients over the age of 3 who are admitted to the hospital who require medication by mouth


  • Educate and advocate for the needs of siblings or other children impacted by hospitalization
  • Use play and developmentally appropriate language to increase siblings’ understanding of illness, injury, diagnosis or change in medical status
  • Preparation for visits to the hospital while brother or sister is admitted
  • Individualized attention in the Sibling Clubhouse
  • Educate families regarding children’s understanding of death and dying
  • Help facilitate difficult conversations
  • Self-expressive
  • Sensory
  • Medical play
  • Promoting typical growth and development, normalcy and socialization


Surgery for a child is an experience that involves the entire family. Nationwide Children’s Surgery Unit has an on-site tour to help both families and the patient understand what to expect when coming for surgery.

We provide individual tours with  time to explore medical equipment and a question and answer time for your family. 

To request a tour, you may call us at (614) 722-9107.

Please check with your referring physician to ensure your surgery is in the main OR on the Surgery Unit and not in the surgery center.  Surgery Center tours are scheduled through (614) 722-2929.

Need directions on how to get here and where to park? Check out our main campus map, directions and parking information.

Child Life Clinical Experiences

Nationwide Children’s Hospital is pleased to offer clinical experiences for students. We work closely with students to ensure the highest quality of learning opportunities.

We offer two different student experiences- Our Practicum which is an introductory experience to the child life profession and our Internship to provide advanced experience to further develop skills for child life students.

Please refer to our Cover Letter for more information on the programs, prerequisites, and application information. We follow the ACLP deadlines and require the ACLP Common Application for intern applicants.


  • Download the application to apply now.
  • There is a $25 application fee for internship applications. Checks should be made payable to “Family and Volunteer Services” and submitted with your internship application.


If you have any questions regarding our student opportunities, please feel free to contact our Student Committee at

Coverage Areas

  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)
  • The Heart Center (Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit-CTICU)
  • Colorectal, Urology, and GI Intestinal Support Unit
  • Burn, Trauma, and Surgery Unit
  • Orthopedics, ENT, Plastic Surgery, and Special Pathogens Unit
  • Pulmonary, Complex Care, and Pulmonary Intensive Care Unit
  • General Peds and Adolescent Medicine Unit
  • Rehabilitation Unit
  • Neurology and Neurosurgery Unit (including Neurodiagnostics)
  • Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Nephrology, Rheumatology, and Genetics Unit
  • Hematology/Oncology Unit (including Bone Marrow Transplant Unit)
  • Infectious Disease Unit
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Cardiology Clinic
  • The Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction (CCPR)
  • Dialysis
  • Emergency Department
  • Hematology/Oncology Clinic
  • Hospice
  • Medical Specialties Clinics
  • Pulmonary Clinic
  • Procedure Center
  • Radiology
  • Sibling Clubhouse
  • Surgery Units and Surgery Tours

Meet our Child Life Specialists Leadership

  • Family and Volunteer Services Department Director: Donna Trentel
  • Child Life Manager: Karen McHugh-Fornadel
  • Child Life Clinical Leads: Ashley Curcio and Jacquelyn MacLeod

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