Senior to Complete Student Teaching in Hospital

January 2018

After 23 applications and 15 interviews, Sarah Buwalda, senior elementary education major and psychology minor, landed a competitive internship as a child life specialist at Tucson Medical Center for Children.

 Sarah Buwalda

As a child life specialist, Buwalda will serve as the communication step from the doctor to the child, and sometimes from the parent to their young one. The position uses developmentally appropriate terms to keep young patients comfortable through challenges of hospitalization, illness and disabilities. Buwalda will prepare children for medical procedures, pain management and coping strategies through difficult situations.

“Education is so much more than the classroom,” said Dr. Chelly Templeton, dean of the School of Education and Behavioral Studies.

Buwalda, a resident of Maitland, Florida, recently completed her Residency I of student teaching in a third grade gifted class at Everglades Elementary School. Her passion to work with children comes from being the oldest of her siblings and experiencing caring for children at a young age.

Typically, Palm Beach Atlantic education students complete their Residency II in a private school, Christian school or an international teaching fellowship. However, Buwalda felt called to the child life specialist field.

The steps one must take in order to obtain a child life specialist certification includes 10 approved classes related to education, psychology and human health and development; field experience work; an internship; and a passing score on the Child Life Professional Certification (CLPC) exam. In Buwalda’s field experience work, she devoted 100 hours at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital.

During her Residency II, Buwalda will work with general patients, the pediatric intensive care unit and surgery, emergency and radiation units. The internship will take place from January 15 through April 27 and entail a 40-hour work week. Upon completion of the internship, Buwalda will take the CLPC exam in order to become certified to work full-time in this field.

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