Child Life Internship and Practicum

Child Life Internship and Practicum

COVID-19 update: The Rush Child Life department is now accepting applications for the spring 2022 internship and practicum. Please note the following new information in light of COVID-19:

  • Applications must be received by the ACLP deadline of September 7, 2021. Please make sure your application arrives at the hospital by the September 7, 2021 deadline.  
  • We will accept unofficial transcripts for this round of applications; please be sure to include them in your application packet. 
  • For internship candidates, we will accept virtual practicums, traditional practicums and practicums in progress (please include the appropriate forms in your application).

Please note, we will not accept applications where a practicum has not yet started (e.g., to begin in fall 2021). Practicums must be completed or in progress at the time of application. 

As a child life specialist, you will be helping children and their families deal with the challenges of serious illnesses and hospitalization. Before you become a certified child life specialist, an internship at Rush will help you develop and improve the skills you need to succeed in the child life field.

The child life internship program at Rush is accredited through the Association for Child Life Professionals (ACLP) and meets all requirements for certification readiness.

The child life program at Rush focuses on meeting the individual needs of patients and their families. The child life team provides services to children throughout the medical center seven days a week.

For inquiries or clarifications regarding student programs, please contact the internship and practicum coordinator, Shira Miller, at (312) 942-9020 or 

Child life internship

Child Life Services at Rush offers child life internships three times a year. The child life internships at Rush ...

  • Follow the child life curriculum outlined by the Association for Child Life Professionals (ACLP)
  • Provide students with an internship experience at an ACLP-accredited internship site
  • Are full-time (40 hours per week), unpaid positions
  • Are 600 hours (spread over 15 weeks)
  • Begin in January, May/June and September each year (based on the ACLP internship schedule)

Requirements to apply

We are only able to interview applicants who meet the general prerequisites and criteria below:

Education status

  • College senior
  • College graduate
  • Master’s degree candidate

School/work experience

  • Core curriculum classes or degree in child life, child development or a closely related field
  • Completion of a course taught by a certified child life specialist
  • Course work reviewed/accepted according to ACLP eligibility
  • Student or work experience with children in group settings, including health care environments
  • Completion of 100+ hours of volunteering within a child life department
  • Completion of a 100+ hour child life practicum
  • Knowledge of psychosocial issues related to illness or hospitalization
  • Grade point average of a B or better in major field of study

Apply for a child life internship

To apply for the child life internship at Rush, we require the following:

ACLP’s common child life internship application [PDF]

Submission of the ACLP common application must include all items listed on the application, as well as relevant forms from within the application.

The following are necessary for submission:

  • Completed ACLP common application, including all applicable pages
  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • Eligibility assessment (or proof of academic program endorsement)
  • Official transcripts from all institutions where course work was completed (we will accept unofficial transcripts until further notice in light of COVID-19)
  • Three ACLP common recommendation forms (see bullet below)
  • Three letters of recommendation from professionals who have observed your work with children (e.g., professors, colleagues, child life specialists); letters should be signed, sealed and included in the envelopment along with the ACLP common recommendation forms; please note that practicum evaluation forms do not count as letters of recommendation
  • Verification of related experience forms
  • Verification of practicum form or practicum in progress form
  • Course in progress forms (if applicable)

Please note: Only completed application packets will be reviewed for an internship interview. Please ensure that you submit all materials listed/provided in the common application, in addition to a resume, transcripts and letters of recommendation by the deadline.

Please mail your application and additional materials:

Shira Miller, MS, CCLS
Child Life Services
Rush University Medical Center
1620 W. Harrison - Room 555/56 Pavillion
Chicago, IL 60612

Application deadlines

The deadlines for your application and additional materials are as follows:

  • Winter (January): Sept. 5
  • Summer (May/June): Jan. 5
  • Fall (September): Mar. 15

Applying to the program does not guarantee admission.

After you apply

  • Once we receive all of the materials, we will review them thoroughly.
  • It takes us a minimum of two weeks to process applications.
  • Unfortunately, we will not be able to accept applications post-marked after the official application deadline.
  • If you are chosen to move forward in the internship process, we will contact you by telephone to schedule an interview.

Why choose Rush for your child life internship

As a child life intern at Rush, you will have an opportunity to work with each of the child life specialists and shadow other members of our team. Being a child life intern at Rush will help you gain experience with following:

  • Culturally and socioeconomically diverse patient population
  • Patients with a broad range of pediatric diagnoses
  • Many areas of the medical center, including general pediatrics, the pediatric intensive care unit, the neonatal intensive care unit, radiology, the emergency department and the dialysis unit
  • Innovative child life programs, including Snow City Arts, Open Heart Magic, animal-assisted therapy and therapeutic humor.

Child life practicum

In addition to child life internships, Rush also offers child life practicums. The child life practicum gives students interested in pursuing a career in child life an opportunity to gain more insight into the field. The practicum is one day per week (8 hours). During this time, you will have opportunities to do the following:

  • Shadow child life specialists
  • Participate in designing and implementing therapeutic activities
  • Observe procedural preparation and support
  • Interact with children and families (in the playroom and bedside)
  • Engage in daily interactions with the multidisciplinary team

Apply for a child life practicum

Child Life Services at Rush offers child life practicums three times per year, beginning in January, May-June and September. Application deadlines are the same as those for the internship (see dates above).

To apply for a child life practicum, please submit the following:

  • Resume
  • Official transcripts (both undergraduate and graduate, if applicable); we will accept unofficial transcripts until further notice in light of COVID-19
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A 300- to 500-word essay describing how the work of a child life specialist contributes to the health care experience of children and families

Please mail your application materials:

Shira Miller, MS, CCLS
Child Life Services
Rush University Medical Center
1620 W. Harrison St., Room 555/56 Pavillion
Chicago, IL 60612