Concordia University Now Has a Child Life Specialist Degree

A private university in Ann Arbor is expanding its offerings for students interested in a kid-focused career by launching a child life specialist degree.

A female medical expert with a young girl holding a teddy bear

Current and future college students seeking a career as a child life specialist have a new option to consider in Michigan.

A master’s degree in child life will be available at Concordia University, a private Lutheran college based in Ann Arbor, starting in July 2019, the college announced in a press release.

Child life is a growing field in the health care industry, reports say, and it involves helping children and families cope with things like hospitalizations, medical issues and the emotions these situations can bring.

What the degree entails

Typically, students must complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field and obtain certification – which requires at least 600 hours of internship work – to be qualified as a child life specialist. A master’s of arts in child life can help set child life professionals apart and is ideal for students who have earned an undergraduate degree in subject areas like child psychology or child development.

“The child life profession is growing, continuing its work in the hospital setting but now also expanding into doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, hospice programs, funeral homes, school districts and private practices,” Jennifer Fieten, a certified child life specialist who leads the new degree program at Concordia, says in the press release.

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“As more continue to become aware of our profession, training, skills and the benefits of the psychosocial support that we provide children and families, the demand will continue to rise.”

What these specialists do

So what exactly do child life specialists do? Fieten addresses that question and others in a Q&A on Concordia’s website. Here, she explains that most people have never heard of a child life specialist – but their role in a doctor’s office or pediatric hospital can be invaluable.

“Child life specialists work mostly in health care settings with children and families,” she notes. “They are hired by hospitals and clinics to work with children who may be going through a challenging health obstacle or loss. Families and health professionals rely on child life specialists to use their unique training and skills to work with children coping with challenges.”

Local opportunities

Here in southeast Michigan, child life specialists play a key role at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s HospitalChildren’s Hospital of Michigan, Beaumont Children’s and other health care facilities.

The new master’s degree program at Concordia will include a mix of online and in-person classes, which will give students a deeper look into child development, the processes of supporting children during medical interventions and assisting families in “developmentally appropriate and trauma-informed ways,” according to the university.

For more information on the program, visit the Concordia University Ann Arbor child life master’s degree website.

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