Children's Hospital Colorado

Child Life Practicum at Children's Hospital Colorado

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

Note: This page was updated December 2017.

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.

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 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. Having classes, for example, in child/human development, psychology, family relations, cultural diversity, and the hospitalized child are especially useful. 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.

Practicum students will be in the hospital two days per week for 12 weeks. Day one will be an 8-hour day; with a combination of shadowing certified staff, and planning, facilitating and evaluating programs in areas covered by the child life team. During their clinical day students will shadow staff, plan and implement a variety of recreational and therapeutic 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.

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 that child life specialists work with. Students will have time to process observations with 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 on the last day of their placement, to incorporate the many diverse experiences and lessons of their internship.


  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 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 dateNotification made
Mid May to early Aug February 27 March 13

For 2018, the practicum will run from May 20 to August 10, 2018.

Practicum students will work 8 hours on Tuesdays OR Thursdays, plus 5 hours on Fridays. 

Note: We only offer practicum experiences in the summer.


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."
  • 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 and objectives you expect to accomplish during your practicum
    3. In 50 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