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8110 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church, VA 22042

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. Weekend and consistent evening shifts are NOT available.

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/Orthopedics/Trauma, Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department, Outpatient Radiology, GE Lab, Outpatient Surgery Center, NICU, Cardiac and 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).
  • 2.75 cumulative GPA with a 3.0 major GPA.
  • Completion of a minimum of 50 hours volunteering with children with medical needs; 25 hours MUST be in a hospital setting.* Verification is required. This is separate from a reference letter.
    • *For the 2021 sessions, hospital volunteer hours will be waived due to COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place restricting volunteer engagement with patients and families.

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

Please send all materials together so you can be certain of their arrival.*

  • Cover Letter – please include any barriers that may have prevented you from achieving the entrance requirements.
  • Completed practicum application
  • 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 hours working with children with medical needs and hospital hours. This must be a signed letter and/or log of hours from the stated institution.

Please note: Emails confirming receipt of the application will not be sent by the practicum coordinators. It is the responsibility of the student to follow up if so desired.

*All materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date to be considered for the practicum. Applications for the Summer 2021 session must be post marked by January 22, 2021. The summer 2021 session will start mid-May and run through mid-August.

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.

Upcoming Session

The next Child Life Practicum that will be offered at Inova Children's Hospital will be for the Summer 2021 session. Applications must be post marked by January 22, 2021 for the summer 2021 session. The summer 2021 session will start mid-May and run through mid-August.

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