Purpose of Practicum

The Child Life Program at Penn State Health Children's Hospital is pleased to offer a professional Child Life Practicum Program during the summer for students wishing to pursue a career in the Child Life profession. The Practicum Program is designed to provide an introduction to Child Life through observations and project completions.

The goal of our practicum program is to provide an opportunity for students to observe the role of a child life specialist. We aim to build the foundational skill and concepts necessary for success in their future child life education and career.


  • Students spend time with the CCLS assigned to each unit and observe their daily routines
  • Provide multiple educational sessions with correlated assignments and readings
  • Provide opportunities for students to observe hospital patients and their families through the child life lens
  • Observe, plan and engage students in therapeutic activities (both group and individual)
  • Understand and reflect on roles of various members of the multidisciplinary team and their interactions with Child Life
  • Set goals for the program and reflect on progress periodically and upon the conclusion of their practicum session

The practicum will be comprised of individually designed rotations in observation areas based upon coordinator assessment and best fit for each student. The expectation of student commitment to the practicum program will consist of two to three days a week, resulting in a minimum of 120 hours of practicum experience. Timelines will vary due to staff availability and semester dates. Please be advised that Practicum hours cannot be used to satisfy the required internship hours to sit for the Child Life Certification. The deadline for applications is January 5. If you have any questions, please contact Practicum Coordinators at [email protected].

In order to be considered for this practicum, you must:

  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA within major
  • Must be a standing junior or above at time of application, with completion of junior year by start of practicum semester
  • Must have completed a minimum of three courses in child development
  • Must have completed 50 hours of work with children (paid or volunteer)
  • Must have completed hours or be actively volunteering with children in a healthcare setting (volunteer, practicum, child life assistant) and/or other stressful situations (camps for children with medical diagnosis, support groups, grief programs etc.).

In order to satisfy any required academic credit, please also return with your application any pertinent requirements as determined by your course of study (i.e. course outlines, syllabus, etc.) with your application.

Deadlines are:

  • Practicum Session - 6-10 weeks, typically May - August
  • Application Deadline - January 5
  • Offer Deadline - February 12
  • Acceptance Deadline - February 13

Should dates fall on a weekend or holiday, deadlines will default to the following business day.


The complete application packet must be submitted by January 5. Please include:

  • Completed Practicum Application
  • Practicum Questionnaire
  • Transcripts (student copy is acceptable)
  • Current Resume
  • Two reference letters (one from a person who has observed your work with children) emailed to [email protected] with "Student Name, Practicum Summer [Year]" in the subject line.

Application Review

Upon review of your application, you will be notified by email of your selection status, which may include scheduling an interview. Interviews will be conducted virtually at the end of January and early February

Please note the college or university you are affiliated with on your application. Prior to the start of your practicum, an affiliation agreement must be in place with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and your school. If a contract is failed to be negotiated, if not already standing, the practicum placement becomes void.

  • We are no longer able to accept students not affiliated with a college or university. This will take effect for the Summer 2023 semester.

This is an unpaid practicum. Please also be advised that required clearances, housing, and transportation are the responsibility of the student.