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Child Life Internships

(Last updated July 2014)

Thank you for your interest in the Child Life Department’s Internship Program at Inova Children's Hospital. Our 575-hour internship program spans a 15-week period, during which time interns gain extensive clinical experience in the field of child life. Under the supervision of a team of Certified Child Life Specialists, interns will learn about all aspects of child life, including therapeutic play, procedural preparation and support and coping techniques.

Please review the Child Life Council's web site at for further information regarding coursework, certification eligibility and internship qualifications.

Requirements and deadlines

The internship is open to applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • Baccalaureate students who have completed their junior year, graduates of a bachelor’s degree program, and master’s degree students.
  • Completion of coursework required for certification as determined by the Child Life Council, including a course taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist. In addition, submission of the Child Life Council's Course Work Review is required. Please refer to the Child Life Professional Certification Candidate Manual PDF for additional information.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants with extenuating circumstances who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement must submit a separate, detailed explanation with their application materials in order to be considered.
  • Completion of a 50 hour Child Life Practicum. In addition, candidates must have a combined total of 100 hours of volunteer, fieldwork, or practicum experience under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist.
  • Knowledge of psychosocial issues related to illness and hospitalization.

The following materials must be submitted in order to review and process your application:

  • Current résumé
  • Copy of progress report from the Child Life Council's Eligibility Assessment
  • Copy of the Child Life Council's Child Life Course Verification Form (pp. 30-31 of the Child Life Professional Certification Candidate Manual) or proof of enrollment in a child life course taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist.
  • Academic transcripts from all colleges or universities that you have attended. Unofficial copies will be accepted with the application, but official copies must be supplied immediately upon acceptance of the internship offer.
  • Two or three letters of recommendation, one of which must be from someone who has observed your work with children
  • Verification of volunteer, fieldwork, or practicum hours
  • Child Life Council's Common Internship Application Form
    Child Life Council's Common Internship Application Form Word Doc
  • An additional essay that answers the following questions:
    1. Why do you want to complete your internship at Inova Children's Hospital?
    2. What reservation do you have about becoming a child life specialist?
    3. How do you foresee the child life profession evolving over the next ten years?

Mail your completed application packet to:

Stephanie Harris/Emily Steelman
Child Life Department
Inova Children's Hospital
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA  22042-3300

Questions? Email Stephanie Harris at or Emily Steelman at

Upon review of submitted materials, applicants will be notified of the status of their application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all application materials have been received by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applicants should retain a copy of all application materials. Qualified applicants will be contacted to arrange an interview with the child life staff. We request that your completed application packet be postmarked by the following deadline schedule:

Offer Dates
for 2015
Dates for 2015
Internship Dates
 Summer Monday, 
Monday, 5/11/2015-
Friday, 8/21/2015
Monday, 8/31/2015-
Friday, 12/16/2015

We do not offer a winter/spring internship.

Frequently asked questions

What level of education do I need to be eligible for the child life internship?

To be eligible, you must have a bachelor’s degree or have completed your junior year of college in a four-year degree program. The bachelor’s or master’s degree should be in child life, or a related field (including but not limited to psychology, child development, family studies, education, counseling, etc.). In addition, you must meet the coursework criteria require for certification as determined by the Child Life Council.

Must I be enrolled in a degree program at the time of the internship?

We do not require you to be enrolled in a degree program. However, independent students must obtain professional liability insurance. If selected for the internship program, the Child Life Department can provide you with the name of a company that may provide this type of insurance.

How can I best prepare for this internship?

Strong internship candidates will have a solid background in child development and will have a variety of experiences working with children both in and out of the hospital setting. We require that 100 hours of volunteer, fieldwork, or practicum experience, under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist, be completed prior to the start of the internship. This exposure best prepares you to work in the unique environment of a hospital. Additionally, prior experience in a hospital setting will help you to solidify your own commitment to the field of child life.

Is this internship an unpaid position?

Yes, the internship is an unpaid position. Parking and educational materials are covered. However, you are responsible for your personal housing and living expenses. Once you are accepted into the program, the Child Life Department can provide a list of potential temporary housing options in the area.

What happens after my application is received?

We review each complete application and will contact qualified applicants to arrange a phone interview with members of the Child Life Department. Second interviews are typically conducted on-site, but exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. Applicants are responsible for their own travel expenses.

How is the internship structured?

The internship is a 15-week, 575-hour internship which is divided into two rotations, with an initial orientation week and an interim week. During the interim week, interns have the opportunity to shadow other child life specialists, visit community centers, including the Ronald McDonald House, Life with Cancer Dewberry Family Center, and the Inova Diabetes Center, and tour other child life programs in the area. Rotation options vary each term, but may include one of the pediatric medical/surgical units, the hematology/oncology unit, the pediatric intensive care unit, outpatient radiology, and the emergency department.

What is the intern's typical weekly schedule?

The interns are expected to work 40 hours per week, following the same schedule as their rotation supervisors, in order to acquire the most realistic and consistent working experience. The schedule is primarily Monday through Friday, during daytime hours, but can vary with staff schedules. Our interns will work at least one weekend day shift during the internship to gain exposure to special programming.

How many interns do you accept for each term?

We typically accept one or two interns each term, depending on the qualifications of the applicants, the availability of supervisors, and the needs of the department.