Child Life Practicum Program

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Child Life Practicum Program

Thank you for your interest in the Child Life Department’s Practicum Program at Inova Children’s Hospital. Our practicum is designed as a 150 hour pre-internship experience for students who are pursuing a career or degree program to become a Child Life Specialist. The practicum is structured so that students will complete 12 hours a week for the first 11 weeks, usually broken up into 2 – 6 hours days to get the most benefit, and then a total of 18 hours the last week for opportunities to observe other units.

Students will be paired with Certified Child Life Specialists and will shadow and work independently with hospitalized children in 2 concentrated rotations throughout Inova Children’s Hospital. There will also be opportunities to spend time on other units throughout the practicum time. These areas may include any of the following: Pediatric Medical/Surgical units, Hematology/Oncology, Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department, Outpatient Radiology, Outpatient Surgery Center, FACT, NICU and Cardiac/IMC departments.

Students will be placed into rotations based on staff availability and other department demands during that particular session. Practicum applicants do not have to be enrolled in a university or college program but must be pursuing the child life career path. For more information on the Child Life profession, please visit the Association for Child Life Professionals website at

Entrance requirements

  • Completion of 5 or more courses in child life or related areas (i.e. child or human development, family dynamics, psychology, counseling, sociology, expressive therapies). 
  • Completion of sophomore standing at the college/university level in a Bachelor’s program or have completed a degree program of a similar field such as child development, psychology, human development, family studies, etc).
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25. Absolutely NO exceptions.
  • Completion of a minimum of 50 hours volunteering in a hospital setting with children. Verification is required, please note this is separate from a reference letter.

All interested applicants must submit ALL of the following completed materials to be considered for an interview as a practicum student:

  • Completed practicum application PDF
  • Two letters of recommendation (at least one must have directly observed your work with children in any setting)
  • Official or unofficial college or university transcript(s)
  • Current resume
  • Four personal and/or professional goals written bulleted format
  • Written essay (300 - 500 words) about how the practicum at Inova Children's Hospital will benefit your professional goals, as well as, 3 things that make you stand out as a candidate
  • Separate list of child life field related classes and grade received
  • Verification of hospital volunteer hours. This must be a signed letter and/or log of volunteer hours from the institution where the volunteer work occurred.

*All materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date to be considered for the practicum. 

Be advised that you will have to complete a full health screen, including a drug test & TB test, prior to starting your practicum.  Paperwork will be sent to you via our HR department.  You can choose to complete the drug & health screening on your own and pay out of pocket OR you will need to arrive at least one week prior to the selected start date to complete this through the Inova system.

Please send completed application to:

Inova Children’s Hospital
Child Life Practicum Coordinators, Child Life Department
Holly Senn
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

Once completed applications are reviewed the applicants will be notified of the status of their application. Applicants should retain a copy of their application materials for their records. Qualified applicants will be contacted to set up an interview with the child life practicum program coordinators and other staff from the child life department. The following schedule is followed as closely as possible.

 Session Application 
 Offer Date
 Practicum Session

Sept. 6, 2019 
Oct. 11, 2019 
Approx. dates
Jan. 13 - Apr 2, 2020
 Summer 2020 Friday,
Jan. 10, 2020 
Feb. 21, 2020
Approx. dates
May 18 - Aug. 7, 2020 

*​Please note: A practicum will not be held in Fall 2019.

Housing, parking and meals

Practicum students are not paid and will be required to make their own arrangements for housing. Parking is included with a hospital-issued ID badge. The badge will allow access to the Blue and Gray parking garages on the medical campus free of charge. There is a cafeteria and several cafés that offer many meal choices or students can bring a meal with them. Since students will be at the campus for a maximum of 5 hours, a 30 minute break will be given.

Additional requirements

Upon acceptance to the practicum program, the student will be required to sign a HIPAA form and confidentiality agreement, present immunization records, proof of negative TB test, proof of current flu vaccine, have a background check completed and purchase individual liability insurance. The details of each of these requirements will be reviewed with the student after acceptance of the practicum offer.

Should you have additional questions, please contact Holly Senn 703-776-3968,