Introducing… a certified child life specialist
Stephanie Beverley is a certified child life specialist in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). She has worked at Hamilton Health Sciences for four years.
What made you enter your field of work?
I have always had a interest in working in a field related to both children and health care. Growing up as a sibling of a hospitalized child, I learned first-hand the psychosocial impact that health care has on children. When I discovered the field of Child Life, something clicked inside and I knew that I had found my dream job.
“When I discovered the field of Child Life, something clicked inside and I knew that I had found my dream job.”
What do you love most about your job?
I love watching children grow and discover strengths within themselves. It is so rewarding to see them be as proud of themselves as we are of them when they succeed at a goal that they have been working towards.
I feel unbelievable lucky to be one of the many sidekicks that travel with a family during some of the most difficult times of their lives. Working in the PICU, children often require many lines and tubes to deliver their critical treatment; finding a way to play amidst all of that is downright magical!
What do you wish you had more time for at work?
Medical play. “Medical play” is allowing children to learn about their health care experiences, by safely using real medical equipment in play to reduce stress and promote a sense of mastery and control over their environment. Medical play is sometimes used with a specific education topic in mind, for instance if a child life specialist is preparing a child for a test or procedure. However, I wish I had time for more of the type of medical play that is solely child driven – there is no specific topic to teach, no end goal, no time constraint, other than to promote positive coping with treatment and have children show us their perceptions and feelings about their hospitalization and correct any misconceptions along the way.
What do you do after work to unwind?
Cook! I love to cook and bake and test out new recipes of all different types – which often leads to goodies left in the office for all to share. Going for a walk after dinner in our quiet neighbourhood or sitting outside are a great way to end the day.
“It is wonderful to see families become empowered when “the impossible” is thrown at them.”
When you tell people what you do, how do they usually react?
I am sure many health care professionals working in pediatrics can relate to the response that I often get. After hearing that I am a child life specialist at a children’s hospital and specifically in the PICU, I am usually met with a sad face and hear “That is so sad”. People often don’t realize that there are MANY more happy days than sad ones.
Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS
I think it is impossible to narrow it down to just one. It is wonderful to see families become empowered when “the impossible” is thrown at them. Many families come to visit or turn around months or years later to give back to the MCH community, so that other children benefit from the same positive experiences in hospital that they did.