Child Life Specialist MS student Krista Schafer sits in a hospital playroom
By School of Behavioral Health - December 18, 2020

The year 2020 has been full of challenges that have stretched us and encouraged greater collaboration between the University and the Hospital. When COVID-19 hit, we jointly watched as our students were pulled from their clinical placements and the Loma Linda University Children's Health Child Life Department experienced the loss of volunteers and intermittent furloughs. Both areas of our organization worked together to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 by identifying needs and supporting both students and staff in order to achieve both academic and professional success.

Through this same process of collaboration, the Child Life S.H.O.P.S. (Students Helping Our Patients Smile) program came to fruition. With normal services severely limited due to the pandemic, the identified issues to be immediately addressed were:

  1. the necessity for our students to gain hands-on experience with the pediatric patient population;
  2. the need for faculty to maintain access to the hospital for didactic coursework;
  3. the staff's need for support in providing basic child life interventions to our patients and their families; and
  4. our patients' needs for healthy developmental stimulation and companionship.

To fulfill these needs, S.H.O.P.S. was specially designed for our Child Life Specialist MS students, providing them opportunities to gain essential pediatric experience, develop a working knowledge of the hospital, and enhance their didactic learning by serving as an avenue through which integrated course assignments can be fulfilled.

Our hope is that through this collaborative effort we can continue to fulfill the vision of "One Loma Linda," proving that when we work together not even a pandemic can stop us from meeting the needs of our patients, families, students, faculty, and staff.

Child Life Specialist MS student Susanna Bun stands in a hospital playroom

Child Life Specialist MS students Krista Schafer (top) and Susanna Bun provide needed services through the new Child Life S.H.O.P.S. program

Written by Kirsti Fowler