Child Life Internship

Photo of a health care provider sitting next to a pediatric patient's bed; the child is holding a tablet and has an oxygen mask near their face

Child Life services at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital offers a comprehensive, 600 hour, 15-week internship program designed to prepare interns for a career as a child life specialist.

  • Our internship program adheres to the recommendations of the ACLP (Association of Child Life Professionals) and utilizes the ACLP Internship curriculum.
  • At the completion of the internship, an intern will be eligible to sit for the ACLP certification exam and will be prepared to practice as an entry-level child life specialist.
  • Our program adheres to the ACLP application deadlines.
  • We accept one intern per Winter/Spring session and one intern per Fall session beginning Winter/Spring session 2023
  • Unaffiliated/Independent interns are accepted.


  • A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a social sciences/human development field of study.
  • Successfully completed child life coursework in the six applied areas of study, as required by ACLP.
  • Completed the academic course work outlined by the ACLP eligibility assessment form.
    • ACLP Confirmation of Child Life course In-Progress form and Additional Required Courses in Progress Form are accepted as long as course work is completed prior to the start of the internship.
  • Completed 120 hours of documented experience volunteering or working with infants, children, youth or families in health care settings or programs designed for children with special needs, identified stressful situations, child advocacy programs, bereavement/hospice experiences and experiences in working with well children.

Currently, a practicum is not required.


Submit the following by email:

  • Completed ACLP Common Child Life Internship application form, which includes:
    • Cover letter
    • Official ACLP Eligibility Assessment Report
    • Résumé
    • Two letters of recommendation (ACLP Common Recommendation Form preferred)
      • Academic Recommendation
      • Work/Volunteer Experience Recommendation
    • Verification of Child Life Practicum Experience Hours Form (if applicable)
    • Verification of Related Experience Form
  • Academic transcripts (unofficial transcripts are accepted)

Applications will be reviewed once all application items are received by the deadline. In-person interviews are not required.

Before the internship begins, interns must also:

  • Have a completed background check, documented up-to-date immunizations, a current TB test and proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Provide documentation of liability insurance coverage, either through a university affiliation or through private liability insurance.

Internship requirements

During the program, intern must be willing to:

  • Work at least 40 hours per week, including some holidays, evening and weekend shifts based on the rotation unit.
  • Complete rotations as assigned.
  • Meet weekly with the internship coordinator.
  • Keep a reflective journal, sample chart notes and developmental assessments.
  • Create and achieve personal internship and rotation goals.
  • Prepare one case study and present to the Child Life Program team.
  • Complete virtual and in-service trainings as assigned.
  • Prepare a significant project, with the internship coordinator's approval, that directly supports the Doernbecher Child Life Program.

Internship program structure

Interns work at the bedside/playroom with a certified child life specialist, assessing patient needs and providing interventions and support. Interventions may include developmental and therapeutic play, diagnosis teaching, preparation and procedural support, coping support, emotional and grief support, and support to siblings and family members. Documentation of encounters and interventions is entered into patient charts.

The 15-week program includes:

  • Week 1: Orientation with internship supervisor (Child Life manager).
  • Weeks 2-13: rotation with certified child life specialists on these units and programs:
    • Outpatient services
    • Surgery
    • Surgical unit
    • Medical unit
    • Pediatric intermediate care unit
    • Newborn intensive care unit (NICU)
    • Oncology/BMT unit
    • Outpatient hematology/oncology unit
    • Pediatric emergency department
    • Pediatric intensive care unit (PICU)
    • Public Relations/Foundation/Hospital School Program/Emotional Safety
    • Child life administration/Volunteer services/Gender identity/Behavioral health
    • Facility dog therapy/Anti-racism/Trauma-informed care
  • Weeks 14 and 15 are solo shifts weeks. Interns will assume the role of the primary child life specialist on several units, with oversight by the unit's child life specialist.
  • Weekly meeting with internship coordinator.
  • Complete virtual trainings and in-services as assigned.
  • Internship hours are mostly completed during weekdays, with some holiday, weekend and evening hours.
  • A certified child life specialist is assigned to the intern during each rotation. Your CCLS supervisor will meet with you daily to discuss rotation goals, journal entries, and patient assessments and interventions.
  • The internship coordinator will provide oversight of a case study.

Contact us

To submit an application or ask other questions, please contact:

Beth Fitzpatrick, B.A., CCLS
Internship coordinator