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Child Life Practicum


Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is a nationally recognized provider of pediatric health care services. We are the only pediatric hospital in Tennessee ranked in 10 out of 10 pediatric specialty programs in U.S. News & World Report’s "Best Children’s Hospitals."

Children’s Hospital is also recognized by Leapfrog as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation.
Children’s Hospital established its Child Life Program in 1969. It began as a one-person, purely recreational program, and has grown to a large and diverse child life staff.

Our Practicum Student Program strives to provide well-rounded learning by offering inpatient and outpatient areas through direct supervision with a Certified Child Life Specialist. Student reflection and learning both benefit from direct supervision and weekly assignments, which include reflective journals and scholarly article reviews. A book review and play project are also included in the practicum experience to support the translation of knowledge to experience. Our team has provided learning experience for child life students since 1980. We continually evaluate our programming to ensure a comprehensive and outstanding experience.

Our department’s educational opportunities work to support the overall VUMC Mission statement on diversity and inclusion:

We will reflect the diversity of the populations we serve in our teams, programs and communications and be inclusive in our processes and decisions.

Learn more about our team’s approach to supporting an inclusive environment for education, work and care.

Application Process

A complete child life practicum application packet contains the following:

  • Completed application (download below)
  • Letter of Intent: your goals for the practicum experience; your special skills, abilities and professional interests
  • Resume
  • Current copy of academic transcripts (may be official or unofficial copies; minimum 3.4 GPA required)
  • Documentation of at least one child development course
  • Two completed recommendation forms (see link at the bottom of this page) from college or university professors and/or child life specialist supervisors. Recommendation forms must come from the recommenders' email addresses, submitted as an attachment to
  • Documentation of 50 hours of experience with children
  • School guidelines/requirements for student education experience (hours per week, number of weeks, projects, journals, papers, etc.)

Submit via email to Please send these materials with a delivery and a read receipt to confirm delivery.

To submit via US mail, physical delivery

To confirm receipt of application materials, please send your submissions via Certified US Mail, FedEx, or UPS. All these mailing options offer package tracking services. We are unable to manually confirm delivery and receipt of application materials due to the large volume of items received.

Mail to:
Child Life & Volunteer Services
attn: Katie Beard
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way Suite 2116
Nashville, TN 37232-9002

Physical mail can take up to two weeks to arrive after mailing. Bear this in mind as application reviews begin immediately following the application deadline. The deadlines listed below are RECEIVE BY deadlines, not postmark deadlines.

Practicum application materials due dates

  • Spring practicum: October 5
  • Summer practicum: January 5
  • Fall Practicum: June 5

Vaccination requirements

  • COVID-19 vaccine
  • Flu vaccine
  • Negative TB skin test within the past three months. If there is a history of a positive TB skin test, provide a chest X-ray taken within the past year.
  • If born on or after January 1, 1957, two live measles (rubella) vaccines given no less than one month apart, after the first birthday; or a measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine since 1989; or laboratory evidence of immunity to rubella or physician-diagnosed rubella infection.
  • Varicella (chicken pox) titer drawn from a reputable laboratory or evidence of receiving the vaccine. Evidence of having the disease is not sufficient.
  • Completed series of three Hepatitis-B vaccine, or informed refusal of the vaccine.
  • Laboratory evidence of immunity to rubella (German measles) within the last five years. This titer is not necessary if you have received the MMR or Rubella vaccine since 1989.
  • Tetanus/diphtheria booster if 10 years have elapsed since last booster (recommended).

Vanderbilt may require other appropriate immunizations to ensure you will not be a health hazard to patients and to protect your personal health.

Revised June 2022