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Child Life Practicum

Mercy Children's Hospital & Clinics is a network of pediatric services within Mercy Medical Center, an 802-bed acute care, not-for-profit Catholic hospital situated on three campuses. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1893, Mercy is Des Moines’ longest continually operating hospital and one of the largest employers in the state, with more than 6,600 employees and a medical staff of more than 950 physicians and allied health professionals. Mercy is also one of the Midwest’s biggest referral centers, offering a variety of specialty services that are unique to Iowa and the region. Mercy Children’s Hospital & Clinics pediatric services include inpatient care, Center for Craniofacial and Children’s Reconstructive Surgery, Children’s Emergency Center, Variety Club Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Variety Club Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Clinics, Pediatric Subspecialty Clinic, Mercy Pediatric Neurology and Psychiatry Center and Pediatric Rehab. Mercy Children’s Hospital & Clinics is proud to offer Central Iowa's only pediatric cardiology and cardiovascular surgery program.  

The Child Life Program

The Child Life program at Mercy Children’s Hospital & Clinics is a vital component of the health care team. Staffed by professionally trained individuals, our Child Life team helps children and their families cope with the emotional and psychological stress of medical experiences. Beginning in 1996 with just one Child Life Specialist providing services to Pediatrics and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the program has expanded to include seven Child Life Specialists providing services throughout the Medical Center. Areas of service include Pediatrics and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Medical Imaging, Pediatric Emergency Department and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Child Life Specialists are also on-call 7 days a week to work with children of patients in adult units and throughout the hospital who could benefit from Child Life interventions. Our goal is to meet the psychosocial needs of as many children as we can within the Medical Center. 

Child Life Practicum

The 120-hour Child Life Practicum offered over the summer at Mercy Children’s Hospital & Clinics is designed as an introductory experience to the hospital environment and the child life profession. Students gain exposure to the unique needs of hospitalized children and their families through observation, play opportunities and other educational experiences demonstrating how Child Life theory is applied to practice in the clinical setting. This experience, in addition to others, will help to provide students with a knowledge base to continue pursuing a career in Child Life.

Child Life Practicum Prerequisites 

  • Enrolled sophomore-senior in one of the following recommended degrees:  Child Life, Child Development, Child and Family Services or Psychology
  • High Academic Achievement:  GPA of 2.5+
  • Ability to pass mandatory health screening and show proof of up-to-date immunization record
  •  Ability to sign contract of agreement for practicum participation  with your college/university
  •  Proof of Liability Insurance if not covered within your college/university contract
  •  Familiarity with Child Life Certification requirements set forth by   the Child Life Council Certifying Committee
  • Upon acceptance into the program, ability to pay $15 non-refundable practicum fee to compensate for materials needed throughout the duration of the practicum program

Child Life Practicum Application

To apply for the practicum, download the Child Life Practicum Application (PDF)* and submit to the Mercy Children's Hospital & Clinics Child Life Program. Please contact the Child Life Specialists at (515) 333-1715 with specific questions regarding the child life practicum.

Completed applications can be sent to:

Mercy Medical Center
Attn: Allison White, 3North Pediatrics
1111 6th Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50314


* PDF documents require Adobe Reader.

1111 6th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50314 (515) 247-3121
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