Children's Hospital Colorado

Child Life Practicum at Children's Hospital Colorado

A child life specialists helps a kid listen to a stuffed animal's heartbeat with a toy stethoscope.

If you are interested in Child Life, please join us for a special educational session: Child Life 101 (.docx).

Note: This page has been updated for the Summer 2020 Practicum placements. Please be mindful of this updated information.

All applicants must be enrolled in a college/university/academic program and receiving credit hours for the practicum as required by Colorado state law. We cannot make any exceptions to this. Thank you for your understanding.

The contract between the hospital and school will need to be negotiated prior to start of practicum. School must supply worker's compensation and general liability insurance for student activities and education. Student or school must provide proof of professional liability insurance. This is due to state law, and no exceptions can be made.

As professionals responsible for training and advancing candidates into the field of Child Life, we want to select students who are the most motivated and committed to this profession. Specifically, we are looking for practicum students who are educationally well prepared to work with pediatric patients and their families. We expect all students to be working towards child life certification and must be on the way to meeting the ACLP course requirements, which can be found at Additionally, we give strong preference to applicants who have significant experience working with children, ideally in a healthcare setting.

Practicum experiences are intended as an introduction to the field and to help prepare you for a future child life internship. Students will have exposure to the role of child life in the pediatric hospital setting, as well as medical terminology, childhood illnesses and treatments. The role of a practicum student is designed with the idea of giving exposure and education. Please be aware that the role of a practicum student is not designed as an internship, and will be more basic and introductory in nature, allowing students to shadow staff and provide basic play interventions to patients.

Practicum students will be in the hospital three days a week over the course of 6 weeks. Days one and two will be 8-hour days; with a combination of shadowing certified staff, and planning, facilitating and evaluating programs in areas covered by the child life team. During their clinical days students will shadow staff, plan and implement a variety of recreational activities for socialization, normalization, developmental play and expression of feelings related to the hospital experience. Students will have rotations in a variety of settings to ensure a diverse experience. These areas may include the Seacrest Studio, and a combination of both inpatient and outpatient settings. These placements may require students working a variety of hours, not strictly 8:00-4:30.

Day two, the practicum students will have an "Education Day" for a total of 5 hours. During an Education Day, students will have learning experiences as a group with a variety of different programs that work as part of the multidisciplinary team with who, child life specialists work. Students will have time to process observations during clinical group supervision with the internship coordinator. Finally, students will have time during the Educational Day to work on preparing for the coming weeks activities and events.

As a project, practicum students plan and organize a Teddy Bear Clinic during the last week of their placement, to incorporate the many diverse experiences and lessons of their internship.

Other opportunities for experiences outside of the regularly scheduled hours often come up and students are given the option of participating in those event, but they are not required nor do they impact evaluations.


  1. Student must be enrolled in a college or university with at least a 3.0 GPA.
  2. Student must have at least "junior" status or be at least in the third year of college or university.
  3. Experience working with healthy children or adolescents (hospital volunteer experience beneficial).
  4. Commitment to learning and advancing knowledge of Child Life in a hospital setting.
  5. Completed application process.
  6. If accepted to practicum program, candidate must complete health screening for school, obtain a signed hospital/university contract 2 weeks prior to start and complete provided Human Resources tasks.
  7. Prospective Student Notice Practicum (.docx)

Child Life practicum information

Application deadlines

Practicum dates (estimated) Application postmark date Notification made
Late May to mid July February 27 March 13

For 2020, the practicum will run from Friday May 29 (orientation) – Friday July 11. Students must be able to be present on all assigned days, and there will be no exceptions on start and end dates.

Practicum students will work 8 hours, 2 days a week Monday through Thursday, plus 5 hours every Friday.


The application consists of the following pieces:

  • Practicum application (.docx)
  • An unofficial transcript from each university/college you have attended
  • A copy of your current resume
  • One letter of recommendation from your academic advisor. This letter should also include the statement: "As the academic advisor, I have received information on the contract from this applicant and am willing to advocate for university support to reach agreement on the contract." If you do not have a current advisor please include a letter from the program providing affiliation, and a letter of recommendation from an academic who can speak to your qualifications for an internship.
  • One letter of recommendation from someone other than relatives or friends familiar with your work with children/families
  • Child Life Work Experience Chart (.docx)
  • A typed response to the following:
    1. A professional statement explaining why you are exploring a practicum at Children's Hospital Colorado
    2. Please list 3 goals, each with three objectives you expect to accomplish during your practicum
    3. In 100 words or less, what is a Child Life Specialist?

Note: Applications will not be returned. Only completed application packets will be reviewed. Please do not send your packet in different pieces - complete all parts before sending.

Before arriving for practicum

Please note that there are requirements that must be completed prior to your practicum.

  • Required readings that will be sent upon acceptance into the practicum program
  • Completion of hospital and university contract 2 weeks prior to start date
  • Once accepted, you will receive an email from Human Resources requiring health information and other time sensitive tasks. These must be completed 2 weeks prior to start date.

Submit your packet to:

Attn: Tommi McHugh, MA, CCLS
Children's Hospital Colorado
Child Life Department
13123 East 16th Avenue
Box B220
Aurora, CO 80045

Contact information

If you need further information, please feel free to contact:

Student Experience Inquiries