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Our Child Life Practicum Program experience provides an introduction to child life services at Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital. The practicum spans the pediatric age and developmental spectrum as well as various areas of the healthcare system served by our child life staff.

Our practicum experience encompasses a minimum of 100 hours over the course of six weeks. We will offer students a variety of shifts that could include evenings and weekends dependent upon the rotation assigned. Students’ course schedules will be taken into account. If students have specific scheduling needs or restrictions, they are responsible for disclosing any scheduling limitations on their practicum application. All schedules will be taken into an account, but flexibility is required from the student to fulfill their practicum hours due to our staffing model, scheduling and availability. If a student cannot meet the required schedule assigned to them, their practicum may be placed on hold or cancelled.

We do not provide student housing during the practicum sessions.

Below you will find important practicum information:

  • Child Life Practicum standards
  • Levine Children’s Hospital practicum standards
  • Program components
  • Program objectives
  • Prerequisites
  • Student expectations
  • Application checklist
  • Practicum application

Affiliation Agreement

An affiliation agreement is required by law between Levine Children’s Hospital and an accredited academic institution in order for you to apply and be eligible for the Child Life Practicum Program. This agreement must be in place prior to submitting your application. If you have already graduated, it is your responsibility to contact an affiliated academic institution and inquire about an independent study. If you are interested in starting the affiliation process with your current academic institution, please refer to your academic advisor to get the process started. The child life practicum program coordinator will not assist with this process. 

Practicum Standards

  • The practicum is a largely observational experience with students beginning to engage in independent play and developmentally supportive interventions with infants, children, adolescents and families, as deemed appropriate by the supervising certified child life specialist (CCLS).
  • The practicum student will be supervised by a CCLS, who has achieved a minimum of 2,000 hours of paid work experience as a child life specialist. The supervising CCLS must be currently practicing in the field of child life.
  • The practicum encompasses a total of 100 supervised hours.
  • The practicum consists of two rotations that will be assigned by the practicum coordinator and based on staffing model and availability. The following areas may be available for rotations:
    • Adult intensive care unit
    • Cardiovascular intensive care unit
    • Emergency department at Levine Children's Hospital
    • Jeff Gordon Children's Center
    • Levine Children's Specialty Center
    • Medical/surgical units
    • Neonatal intensive care unit
    • Neonatal progressive care unit
    • Neurology clinic
    • One-day surgery
    • Pediatric intensive care unit
    • Pediatric oncology/hematology
    • Pre-operative and post-anesthesia care
    • Progressive/renal care unit
    • Radiology
    • Rehabilitation
  • Practicum hours should be completed in an appropriate setting that provides the student with the opportunity to observe and learn from psychosocial interventions that assist infants, children, adolescents and families experiencing health-related or stressful situations.
  • The practicum includes observation opportunities for students to explore the following theory and interventions related to the child life practice:

Learn more about the child life practicum standards specific to Levine Children's Hospital.

  • The practicum student is widely exposed to the child life profession through observation and supervised participation, encompassing a total of 100 hours.
  • The practicum student will be under the supervision of a certified child life specialist (CCLS), who is currently practicing in a paid position in the field of child life (for at least one year).
  • The practicum learning experience includes activities and assignments which allow the student to begin to apply and integrate knowledge and theory application for future clinical practice and help to initiate the development of a personal philosophy of child life practice. These learning assignments will include:
    • Journaling
    • Specific and structured readings
    • Play observation and implementation
    • Observation and documentation of child life services and interventions
  • Practicum students must adhere to the "Child Life Standard of Conduct Agreement" and abide by the code of ethics of the Child Life Council and Levine Children's Hospital.

Other Important Information

Practicum sessions are offered during the summer and winter semesters. The practicum is subject to cancellation due to staffing complications or needs of the program. Students must have their completed application mailed in (or post-marked) on or before the stated deadline. Incomplete and/or late applications will not be considered.

Practicum Session

Application Deadline

Offer Date

Summer (June – July)

January 5

By the second Wednesday in February

Winter (January - February)

September 1

By the second Wednesday in October

  • Enhance understanding of child development and the effects of healthcare experiences on children.
  • Enhance understanding of the value of play and appropriate play care activities for the healthcare setting.
  • Facilitate group/individual play and therapeutic play activities.
  • Observe medical play, psychological preparation and procedural support to gain a better understanding of the role of a child life specialist.
  • Develop and enhance understanding of family-centered care and how it pertains to the child life specialist.

Utilizing observation, active participation and supervision feedback, students will learn how to integrate knowledge and theory in hands-on situations. Students will come away with experiences with all developmental age groups, which will enhance future applications, internships and eventual child life careers. Practicum objectives are as follows:

  • Familiarization with the child life profession.
  • Development of communication skills with children/families in the healthcare setting, as well as with other healthcare professionals.
  • Recognition and understanding of children's/adolescent's reactions to stress, illness and pain.
  • Recognition of the value of play and psychosocially supportive interventions.
  • Learning to plan and implement a variety of activities for groups of children as well as individual children, both of diverse ages and capabilities.
  • Gain knowledge of medical terminology, diagnosis and procedures.
  • Goal setting for learning and evaluation of own performance.
  • Begin to develop professional attitude, growth, maturity and judgment by functioning as a member of the healthcare team.

Note: Please keep in mind our practicum is observational based and your supervisor will allow for interactive opportunities as you progress in the practicum.

  • Weekly journal integrating observations of experiences with child life philosophy and theory
  • Complete weekly required readings
  • Attend in-services and educational sessions
  • Complete a medical terminology list
  • Observe medical play sessions with written feedback
  • Observe procedural preparations with written feedback
  • Observe therapeutic activities with written feedback
  • Plan and implement therapeutic activities
  • Plan and implement play sessions
  • Plan and implement medical play sessions
  • Meet with practicum coordinator to discuss progress and learning experience


Please refer to the Association of Child Life Professionals website before reaching out to the child life program coordinator.


  • Minimum of 3.0 overall GPA.
  • Minimum of five classes that would be approved by the Association of Child Life Processionals (These do not need to be submitted to the Association of Child Life Processionals for review, just included in application). Please refer to the Association of Child Life Professionals website for more information. Classes must be complete prior to applying for the practicum experience.
  • Minimum 80 total hours of volunteer experience: 40 of these hours must be working with typically developing children and 40 hours must be working with either children who have been hospitalized or atypically developing children. This could be in a hospital setting, community resource, developmental centers, etc.
  • Students must be enrolled in a child life related university academic program and be classified as a junior or senior if enrolled in an undergraduate program (see affiliation section for details). Master's or post-baccalaureate students with required coursework are also eligible to apply.

Application Checklist

In order to be considered for placement, you must submit the following application materials to:

Child Life Practicum Coordinator
Levine Children’s Hospital
1000 Blythe Blvd., Room 2034
Charlotte, NC 28203

  • Completed application
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Volunteer verification form--please include one per facility. A minimum of 80 hours (40 hours with typically developing children, 40 hours with either children who are atypically developing or in the healthcare setting).
  • Unofficial transcripts from all academic institutions you have attended (student copy is acceptable)
  • Association of Child Life Professionals relevant coursework list
  • Two signed letters of recommendation (one must be from a professional who has observed you working with children).
  • Signed application checklist