New Child Life Specialist Major Offered

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Starting in fall 2017, Aquinas College will offer a new Child Life Specialist major, preparing students to meet the needs of infants, children, adolescents, and their families who are facing medical procedures or developmental risks.

The multidisciplinary degree will prepare students to handle many important duties, such as educating children in developmentally appropriate terminology about procedures, diagnosis, or treatments, and working with the family to support their needs.   In a 2014 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics “Child Life Specialist support decreases sedation use, radiation costs by increasing coping skills for painful treatments, and helps reduce fear and anxiety.” Students will also learn how to utilize therapeutic play and counseling techniques to reduce fear and pain and how to play a key communicative role in an inter-disciplinary team, offering a more united approach for recovery of the child. 

Students who may be a great fit for the program:

  • Interested in helping others
  • Drawn to the medical field
  • Compassionate
  • Emotionally intelligent
  • Can relate and interact well with children

The demand for Child Life Specialists is continuing to see growth.  Nationally over 3,000 Child Life Specialist jobs are available currently on alone.   Employment opportunities for this position are also expected to raise by 12 to 15% in this next year.  Although pay will vary depending on placement, salary expectations for child life specialists range from $40-60,000/year and provide extensive benefits. Graduates of this new major will find job opportunities in hospitals, pediatric offices, emergency rooms, dental offices, community programs and other healthcare and community facilities that work with children. 

Aquinas is among only a few colleges across the nation to offer a program specific to the Child Life Specialty.  The program is housed in the Psychology and Counselor Education Department and offers 3 separate tracks to best accommodate students who have different educational experiences. Education, sociology, and nursing students also will be eligible to complete the Child Life Certification Program by completing the necessary coursework independent of and in addition to their major requirements. The degree also meets and exceeds child life certification standards ensuring that graduates are well equipped to begin work in the field.

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