Internship Objectives & Responsibilities


  1. To understand the Child Life Philosophy and the goals of the Child Life Program at CoxHealth. 
  2. To become familiar with CoxHealth’s resources, protocols, and multi-disciplinary team. 
  3. To develop skills to use in therapeutic play and activities with hospitalized children from all developmental levels.
  4. To comprehend the underlying theory and develop skills in procedural and pre-operative preparation, as well as medical play. 
  5. To become competent in assessing hospitalized children and their families and realize the impact of medical experiences.
  6. To become efficient in charting techniques.
  7. To develop skills necessary to interact effectively with multiple audiences - patient, families, community partners and hospital staff.
  8. To become efficient in time management and prioritizing patient needs.
  9. To develop skills to remain non-judgmental and objective with patients and their families. 
  10. To develop skills necessary to advocate for patient needs with hospital staff and family members. 
  11. To help maintain a child’s relationship with parents and other family members: 
  12. By communicating with parents about their child’s feelings and behaviors, as well as being supportive to the parent. 
  13. Providing opportunities for sibling and peer interaction.
  14. To have met Association of Child Life Professionals Standards in order to complete the Child Life Certification process.


  1. Prepare written goals and objectives for a 600-hour internship. Revisiting the goals often throughout the process is a must. 
  2. Actively and enthusiastically seek out new learning experiences. 
  3. Participate in weekly consultations and topic discussions with the Child Life staff. 
  4. Assist and observe in all departments that Child Life is involved. 
  5. Assist in the assessment of patient needs through direct contact with the patient and patient’s family, reading medical records, conferring with medical personnel and discussion with the Child Life specialists. Stress potential will also be formally assessed. 
  6. Prepare and execute therapeutic activities for all developmental levels from infancy to adolescence. This includes preparing materials for special events and holidays that occur during the internship. 
  7. Assist in the selection and purchase of Child Life equipment. 
  8. Share responsibility for the general maintenance of Child Life equipment. 
  9. Assist in the training and directing of volunteers and shadow students. 
  10. Responsible for keeping a daily journal that includes at least one patient assessment per week, to be shared with the supervisor every two weeks. 
  11. Prepare therapeutic activities and evaluate implementation.
  12. Develop charting techniques and completion of charting assignments. 
  13. Enhance critical thinking skills through reflections of self and skills, completion of all assignments, journaling, and evaluation of services provided. 
  14. Perform all other departmental duties as required. 
  15. Maintain professional boundaries at all times. This includes not sharing personal health care experiences, buying gifts for patients, coming in when you are not scheduled, giving personal contact information to families or asking for their contact information, or sharing your personal religious beliefs with families.

About CoxHealth and Child Life

CoxHealth is the only locally owned, not-for-profit health system based in Springfield, Missouri. Cox Medical Center South is a community hospital with a pediatric unit, pediatric intensive care, and private neonatal intensive care rooms. In addition to supporting these units, Child Life serves patients 18 and younger who are admitted to other hospital departments. Adult patients throughout the system who are developmentally delayed also fall within our scope of care. 

The Child Life department was established in 1991 and currently has three full-time and one part-time Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS). Our program provides coverage seven days a week. Child Life is an integral part of the health care team, often consulted to assist children and families throughout the organization.

What are my options for living arrangements?

CoxHealth does not provide housing for interns. Living arrangements are the responsibility of the intern. An apartment guide can be mailed upon acceptance into the internship. Springfield, Mo., has more than five colleges/universities, so there are many opportunities for short-term leasing or sub-leasing. For more information, click here

Are vaccinations required?

Upon acceptance into the Child Life internship program, proof of vaccinations will be required. This includes a flu shot for Fall/Spring interns.

Will I need liability insurance?

Interns will be required to have liability insurance for the duration of their internship. Often, this is covered by a student's continued affiliation with their university.  Once an internship offer has been made, CoxHealth can provide additional information regarding this requirement.

How will I be involved with the Association of Child Life Professionals?

All of the Child Life Specialists at CoxHealth maintain certification and Association of Child Life Professionals membership. We utilize all ACLP approved documents for intership, including the Common Internship Application, the Child Life Clinical Internship Curriculum Learning Modules and Evaluation Tool for Child Life Interns. The CCLS are also involved in various committees and task forces through ACLP.

What schools offer degree programs to become a Child Life Specialist?

Among others, the University of Missouri and Missouri State University offer students an opportunity to study Child Life. A Child Life emphasis at the Bachelor's or Master's levels are the best preparations that a student can receive for an internship and career. Other universities in Missouri offer degrees in Human Development and Family Studies, Child Development, Psychology and Sociology that could provide eligibility for a Child Life internship.

The Association of Child Life Professionals offer students an eligibility assessment program to determine if the college courses meet the minimum requirements for internship and certification eligibility. If a student is interested in a career in Child Life, it is strongly recommended to research universities with Child Life degree programs and hospitals with Child Life internships across the United States. Also, the Association of Child Life Professionals is a great resource for information about the field, certification and other issues.

What are the prerequisites when applying for an internship in Child Life?

Applicant requirements vary between different Child Life programs. Prospective Child Life interns must have completed coursework in Child Life, Child Development, Family Systems, Play, Research, Loss and Bereavement or other applicable content areas. Most internship sites look for classes in medical terminology, child and adolescent development, ethics, cultural diversity, parenting, family relationships, group dynamics, stress and coping, research methods, crisis intervention, and death and dying on student transcripts.

Volunteer experience is also a big plus on an application. Volunteer opportunities could be hospital-based, revolve around community need, working with special needs children, involvement in parenting programs, etc. A practicum experience or a minimum number of volunteer hours in a Child Life program might also be necessary. Again, please check with the program to which you are applying.

Is a bachelor's degree required to do an internship?

Our interns must be affiliated with a university that maintains a student agreement with CoxHealth. Please check with specific internship sites to make sure that you are meeting the minimum requirements for their internship application process.

Are there many Child Life job opportunities available?

Child Life is a very competitive field. With the expansion of hospitals and children's hospitals, there has been an increased demand for Child Life Specialists. Minimum requirements for a Child Life Specialist position are 600 hours at an internship site under a Certified Child Life Specialist, bachelor's or master's degree in Child Life or related field and eligibility to sit for the Child Life Certification exam. Some positions also require an applicant to already be certified or obtain certification in a specified amount of time. 

The Association of Child Life Professionals includes a Job Bank listing that gives interested parties a more accurate feel for available positions in the field. Relocation may be necessary to obtain the best job opportunities.

What is the difference between a Child Life practicum and internship?

A practicum experience is usually 100 to 150 hours in a hospital setting, depending upon the university's degree program. It serves to expose students to the child life profession and is designed to prepare students for an internship. An internship is a hands-on, 600 hour (minimum) experience under a Certified Child Life Specialist. For more information, please consult your university or the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Requirements and Application

  • Click to view our application deadlines.
  • Must have at least senior status with a college or university. If graduated, must be able to maintain an affiliation with a university or college that has a student agreement with CoxHealth.
  • Complete at least 10 ACLP-approved courses inclusive of the six curriculum topics.
  • Experience with infants, children, youth or families in stressful situations, health care settings, or programs designed for children with special needs is required. Completion of at least 100 hours of practicum experience is required - hospital-based is preferred.
  • Experience with well infants, children, youth or families is also required.
  • Completed ACLP common internship application.
  • Per the ACLP’s recommendation, unofficial university transcripts will be attached to your Internship Readiness Common Application on the ACLP portal. Eligibility Assessment must also be completed.
  • Completed materials should be emailed to the CoxHealth Child Life Department, Internship Coordinator Rana Post, CCLS. Contact information is in the top right-hand corner of this page.
  • Late and/or incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • Each application will be reviewed to ensure that the applicant meets all requirements as listed above.
  • Submitting a completed application does not guarantee an interview or placement. Only the most qualified applicants will be contacted for an interview.

medicalbag Find a Physician calendar Make An Appointment location View Locations