ACLP logoChild life students come to St. Louis Children’s Hospital to complete their Bachelor or Master’s degree requirements through a clinical internship. The seventeen week internship experience gives the student an opportunity to practice child life theories, and provides exposure to the special needs of hospitalized children in a variety of both in-patient and out-patient settings. The student will complete three rotations, which begins after a week of initial orientation.

The clinical internship is designed to complement academic studies and follows the Association of Child Life Professional’s curriculum modules. The purpose is to provide a clinical program for students to develop a professional identity in working with children, families and staff within a pediatric setting. Through clinical experiences students will seek, identify and develop professional responsibility, philosophies and ethics relating to child life. As a result of this training, students will have the opportunity to acquire entry level skills needed to develop child life programs in pediatric settings or to enhance those already established. 

St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s clinical internship program has met the minimum standards for a clinical internship program set forth by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP).  St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s clinical internship program is currently Accredited and is recognized by the ACLP on their professional website.

Selection Criteria

**All criteria must be met in order to be considered for the clinical internship position.  No exceptions will be made.

  • Students must have a child life practicum with direct onsite supervision of a certified child life specialist.  A minimum of 100 hours must be completed prior to the internship start date.  Practicums may be in progress at the time the application is due and/or throughout the internship interview process.  While all child life practicums will be accepted, preference will be given to candidates completing their practicum hours in a hospital setting.
  • Students must have completed the educational requirements that meet the Association of Child Life Professional's educational standards. This includes the 6 curriculum topics taught by a certified child life specialist that meets the ACLP’s standard criteria (course(s) may be in progress during the application process).
  • Students affiliated with a university must be of senior standing and have support throughout the internship, with an advisor making a site visit or communicating with the student and the child life internship educator.  Students no longer affiliated with a university will be required to provide his/her own liability insurance during the internship.
  • Students must be able to display strong knowledge and understanding of child life philosophy as well as lifespan development and theory.

Application Process

To apply for a clinical internship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the following information must be sent and received by the application deadline stated below.  Students who have questions regarding the selection criteria, application materials or application deadlines may contact the child life department and ask to speak with the internship coordinator.  Candidates will have ONE opportunity to submit a complete application. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

The following information is required and will make up your clinical internship application. Please submit the following documents as either a Word document or PDF as separate attachments to the submission email listed below. Word document or PDF. Any other formatting (e.g. google drive links, sharepoint links, jpeg, png, etc) will make the application incomplete and it will not be accepted:

  • Newest Common Child Life Internship Readiness Application: PDF version or Word Version.
  • ACLP Eligibility Assessment (included in application)
    • Candidates from an ACLP endorsed Academic program submit the front page of the Eligibility Assessment and the endorsed program letter.
    • All other candidates must submit ALL PAGES of the Eligibility Assessment.
    • Eligibility Assessment must show "PASSED" on all academic requirements and including the 6 core child life topics
      • Academic requirements may be in progress at the application time with proper documentation from the instructor teaching the topics.
      • Further documentation of completion of the missing academic requirements must be submitted prior to beginning an internship.
  • An essay answering the following questions in 250-500 words each:
    • “What are your specific reasons for pursuing an internship at St. Louis Children's Hospital?”
    • “Many candidates look similar on paper due to course work and experiences. Please tell us what makes you different than other candidates applying for internships.”

Students interested in applying for a clinical internship must submit the completed application requirements electronically to the email address below.  All application materials must be received no later than the application deadline for the appropriate semester.  The Child Life Services staff will review all applications, and a staff member will contact students to notify him/her of his/her status with St. Louis Children's Hospital. Applicants that do not meet the selection criteria and/or do not have all required application materials in proper format will not be considered for the clinical internship. 

Electronic Submission

Please submit the required documents as separate attachments to the submission email . Application materials should be in either a PDF or Word Document format. Any other formatting (e.g. google drive links, SharePoint links, jpeg, png, etc) will make the application incomplete and it will not be accepted:

[email protected]
Subject Line:  Internship Application - Candidate Name

Clinical Internship Application Deadlines

Semester Application Deadlines (received by Offer Deadlines Acceptance Deadlines Internship Start Dates
SUMMER January 5th 2nd Tuesday in February Following Day      2nd Monday of May  
WINTER/ SPRING September 5th 2nd Tuesday in October Following Day 2nd Monday of January  
FALL March 15th 1st Tuesday in May Following Day 4th Monday of August


Please note the following: The application dates are in agreement with the Association of Child Life Professional guidelines as set by the Education Committee. (For more information, see the Official Documents of the Child Life Council revised 2002.) Should a deadline fall on a weekend or holiday, then the deadline will be moved forward to the next business day. All internship dates are subject to change by a week or more due to holidays, intern schedules, or staff schedules.

For additional information or questions regarding our clinical internship program, please contact the internship committee at [email protected]

Interview Process

St. Louis Children's Hospital does two rounds of interviews prior to offering the internship position on the ACLP's initial offer date. Candidates selected to participate in the first round interviews will be interviewed via phone. First round interviews will be conducted in a Multi-Mini Interview format, candidates can expect to interview with different members of the student selection team. Candidates selected to move forward to the second round of interviews will be required to interview in person at St. Louis Children's Hospital or via Microsoft Teams. During the second round, candidates can expect to interview with the student selection committee, the department manager, and have a tour of the facility. Official offers will begin on the ACLP initial offer date.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is your clinical internship accredited?

Yes. St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s clinical internship program has been reviewed and accredited by the Association of Child Life Professionals. St. Louis Children’s Hospital meets all of the minimum standards set forth by the Association of Child Life Professionals to help interns be job entry level ready upon completion of the clinical internship experience.


How long is your clinical internship?

The clinical internship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a 40-hour per week, 17-week internship. After completion students will have a total of 680 hours, which exceeds the minimum hours required to apply and sit for the Child Life Certification exam.


How is your clinical internship set up?

A student in the clinical internship program can expect 1 week of hospital and department orientation, followed by 1 rotation lasing 4 weeks and 2 rotations lasting 6 weeks in a variety of areas within the hospital. Possible rotation options where child life services are provided are listed below. Please note that not all units may be available to supervise a student due to staff eligibility.

In-patient units 
Out-patient units 
Emergency Unit 
General Surgery/Burns
Hematology/Oncology Clinic
General Medicine/Sickle Cell
Ambulatory Procedure Center
Heart/Lung Transplant/CICU
Same Day Surgery
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit 
Radiation Oncology
Kidney/Liver Transplant/Cystic Fibrosis

In addition to direct clinical work, interns also get opportunities to work with special events (activities and performers from outside the hospital for the patients), closed-circuit television programming, and numerous volunteers. Time is included to allow students to visit other child life and children’s programs, to shadow staff they may not have gotten to complete a rotation with, and to attend procedures and/or surgeries.

What course work will I be required to complete during the clinical internship?

St. Louis Children’s Hospital uses the Association of Child Life Professional’s learning curriculum modules to guide the development of a student’s child life skills. In addition to the required readings and assignments listed in the ACLP’s curriculum modules, daily journals, documenting in the medical record, site visits, a case studies, activity plans and informal developmental assessments, and a project are all required. Each rotation is subject to other possible assignments as well. All assignments and clinical hours must be completed prior to receiving the internship verification form required to apply for the certification exam.


Are there any fees? Do you offer any compensation?

There is no cost to intern at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. While St. Louis Children’s Hospital does not offer monetary compensation to students, interns do receive discounts in the cafeteria and free parking.


Will I be supervised by a certified child life specialist?

Yes. Interns will have a direct clinical supervisor for each rotation, as well as a clinical intern educator that follows the intern’s progress throughout the entire internship. Each supervisor will be available to assist in the training on documentation and clinical skills, and will meet with the intern weekly to discuss progress on goals and projects. Each supervisor meets the standard ACLP requirements for supervising students (currently certified and completed a minimum of 4000 hours of clinical experience). In addition, each supervisor must be in their current position for a minimum of 1 year prior to supervising an intern. This is to ensure that our students receive the proper supervision and best experience possible.


Will my supervisor be supervising other students at the same time they are supervising me?

Clinical rotation supervisors are allowed to supervise 1 student on their unit at any given time and are required to be present a minimum of 80% of the clinical rotation hours.  This is to allow for complete focus and attention toward a student’s learning experience and proper evaluation of clinical skills.  Each student is also assigned a clinical intern educator who will oversee the entire internship and meet with the student once a week to discuss their experiences and clinical skills.  The clinical intern educator may also serve as a clinical rotation supervisor to another student on their unit during one of the three rotations offered.


Is housing available?

Every effort is made to assist students in finding temporary housing for their internship period.  Many students live with a family member or friend during their internship. Other students have arranged a short-term lease at an apartment complex that is close to the medical center.  There are also several universities in the area which may have resident hall living options or students looking for sub leasers for the semester.


Why do I need experience with typical developing healthy infants, children, youth and/or families?

Healthcare experiences can place a lot of stress and demand on a child and the family and their ability to cope with these experiences can be affected. In order to fully understand these effects of hospitalization on a child and/or a family, it is important to see how children grow and learn based on their development in typical every day settings. It is also important to see and understand how families function under typical circumstances. This will allow a student to better be able to assess how a child and/or the family are affected by their healthcare experience and what type of interventions may be most beneficial to use.


Why do I need to experience with infants, youth and/or families in healthcare settings and or programs designed for special needs populations?

It is important to have some idea of what one may see or expect when working with hospitalized or special needs populations. These types of populations can present unique challenges that can be a surprise to students who have not seen this prior to a clinical internship. In addition, having this exposure to these populations will allow a student to put more focus on connecting the knowledge from the academic setting into the clinical setting throughout internship experience.


Do I need a contract between your hospital and my university?

All students currently enrolled in school who are seeking hours for credit will need to be under a contract between the College/University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The hospital currently has contracts with several universities that are periodically revised and renewed. Once a student is selected as an intern, the manager of the child life department will ensure that a valid agreement is reached between the university and the hospital prior to the onset of the internship. The university has the option to provide liability insurance for students studying/working off campus. If the university does not cover students under the university liability insurance, or if the student will not have an affiliation with a college/university, professional liability insurance must be provided by the student. Proof of insurance will need to be provided to the child life manager prior to beginning the clinical internship.

The students selected to intern at St. Louis Children’s Hospital will be registered with Volunteer Services to track the number of hours worked during the clinical internship. Each student must complete and provide the following before the scheduled start date: a record of immunizations, a copy of a current background check, and a copy of a current TB screening and flu vaccination. Questions regarding these items may be directed to the Child Life Services manager.

Do I need to be affiliated with a college or university in order to complete your internship?

No, a school affiliation is not necessary at the time a clinical internship is occurring. However, liability insurance will still be required to be provided prior to the start of the clinical internship.