Child Life Internship Program at Doernbecher

For Child Life internship applicants

Thank you for your interest in our Child Life Internship Program at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. The deadline for applying for the 2017 Doernbecher Child Life Internship is now closed. Our child life program will not be offering another internship until 2019. If you have any questions of future internship opportunities at Doernbecher, please email Sandra Westfall: . We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause in scheduling an internship in 2017 and wish you the best in your continued search for a child life internship.

Applications must include official transcripts (copies are acceptable) and 3 reference letters. Qualified applicants will be contacted and a telephone interview arranged. Only one applicant will be accepted. Additional pertinent information will be provided upon acceptance.

The eligible candidate must be a college senior or graduate and possess:

  • Ten (10) core curriculum classes or degree in child life, child development or a closely related field as approved by a Child Life Council Course Review
  • Student or work experience with children in group settings
  • Experience working with children in an established child life/therapeutic program in a health care setting (100 hours minimum volunteer and field work or practicum placement)

Hospital overview

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital (DCH) is a 151-bed acute care pediatric hospital located on the Oregon Health and Sciences University campus in Portland, Oregon. As part of a higher education facility, DCH is a tertiary hospital that serves the state of Oregon and southwest Washington offering numerous specialty services to families including patients from Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii. Patients range from 0-21 years of age.

DCH Child Life program overview

The Child Life Program at DCH consists of 5 full-time and 4 part-time Certified Child Life Specialists. The Child Life Specialists covers assigned areas which consist of the Hematology/Oncology inpatient unit and outpatient clinic, Intermediate Care, Pre-Op and Surgical, Medical, and the Pediatric ICU.

The DCH Child Life Program and staff enhance the psychological and emotional well-being of patients and families by incorporating developmental activities such as, music and art programs, pet assisted therapy, weekly and special events throughout the year.

Internship overview

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital offers a full time 14-week Child Life Internship Program. The program is available for credit on an undergraduate level or non-credit for those with completed degrees. During orientation week and prior to working with patients, interns must complete TB tests, a background check, and drug screening. Online HIPAA training and other required hospital training modules must be completed during orientation week.

Interns will complete two 5-week rotations in the Medical-Surgical units and Hematology/Oncology respectively. Interns will also have the opportunity to shadow child life staff in Pre-Op, Intermediate Care and the ICU. Interns will also tour other area pediatric hospitals to learn about their child life programs. Interns will work some Saturdays and holidays during their rotations.

During the 14weeks, interns will attend various weekly seminars covering the competencies and essential curriculum topics developed and recommended by the CLC Internship Task Force and approved by the CLC Board of Directors.

Our DCH Child Life Internship curriculum includes:

  • Development/history of the Child Life profession
  • Review of child development literature and applying theory to practice
  • Assessment and documentation
  • Communication
  • Play
  • Medical/healthcare play
  • Therapeutic play and coping
  • Psychological preparation
  • Coping with pain and distress
  • Patient and family centered care
  • Development of professional knowledge
  • Death, loss and bereavement support
  • Professional development and final presentation
  • Building administrative awareness and skills/ internship closure

Requirements include, but are not limited to, a daily journal, attending seminars, a mid and final internship presentation to the child life staff on a subject of special interest to the intern. These are informal presentations designed to increase intern skills and knowledge by requiring reading, research and presenting.

The most important intern responsibility lies in participation in the patient care areas. An intern initially assists the supervising child life specialist and then assumes increasing responsibility for planning and implementing interventions in play areas, at bedside/exam rooms, and during medical procedures. The level of responsibility progresses until the intern is able to work independently utilizing developmental knowledge to assess patient needs, plan goals, and implement interventions. Evaluation and documentation of interventions are skills developed throughout the internship. Additionally, interns will enhance their skills in team building and increase understanding of family centered care in a diverse population. An important goal is to prepare the intern for certification as required by the Child Life Council.

To apply

View the Child Life Internship Application.

PDF Application

Please mail the application to: Sandra Westfall, DCH Child Life Program, 3550 S.W. U.S. Veteran’s Road, Mailcode: DC10A, Portland, OR 97239 or e-mail to: