Bubbles, books, and stuffed animals are tools of the trade for child life specialists at Gillette Children's.
March is Child Life Month and a time to highlight the joy and hard work these health professionals bring to hospitalized children and their families.
When you come to Gillette Children’s you’ll collaborate with child life specialists who have extensive knowledge of child development and are experts at understanding how a medical environment can affect children. Child life specialists use a variety of developmentally appropriate techniques to prepare, comfort, and distract children.
Whether it’s providing a toy or favorite video in a hospital room, leading an activity, or helping with relaxation techniques, child life specialists work with families and the medical team to promote healing and comfort.
It’s probably not a surprise to hear that a love of children and a desire to bring comfort are the main motivators for many child life specialists. Gillette Children’s has a team of 12 child life specialists and they each have a passion for their job.
Driven to support and serve
Courtney Habeck became interested in the field because her mother was a pediatric nurse. “My mom’s best friend introduced me to it because she worked as a child life specialist and so I volunteered during high school. I fell in love with the way child life supports patients and families!” Habeck adds her favorite part of her work is “Being a part of helping children realize what they’re capable of accomplishing. To see their pride and excitement of doing something they were initially apprehensive of is incredible.”
Liz Jensen also knew early in life that she wanted to be a child life specialist. “I met a child life specialist in middle school when a good friend of mine was going through treatment for cancer. I started volunteering at Children’s St. Paul while I was in high school.”
Gillette Children’s child life specialist, Stephanie Alvarez, says she enjoys her work because, “No two days are the same. I appreciate being a witness to the joys and the milestones.”
Child life supervisor, Natalie Fetzek, has worked at Gillette Children’s for 14 years and was inspired to enter the field because of her personal experience “I spent some time at Children’s Minnesota when I was younger and had a fabulous child life specialist work with me.” Fetzek enjoys being part of team at Gillette. “I love working with an interdisciplinary team and finding strength from my social work, psychology, chaplaincy, therapeutic recreation, music therapy, interpreter, nursing and physician colleagues.”
Child life specialists are part of the integrated care at Gillette and are committed to helping children and families feel supported and prepared.