March is Child Life Month. As we celebrate the important role child life specialists play in the care of children at our Shriners Hospital, we invite you to meet our very special team. A hospital stay can be a stressful time for both children and their parents. Child life specialists help patients and their families cope with the experience by giving children opportunities to play, learn and express themselves in a safe and compassionate environment of care. By working directly with patients, child life specialists empower children to express their fears, gain awareness about their medical care and, in turn, the ability to positively deal with their hospital experience.
Name: Katie MacDonald
Occupation/Title: Child Life Activities Coordinator
Interests / Hobbies: One of my favorite things to do is travel. I love seeing new places and being exposed to different cultures. In my spare time I enjoy going to the movies, hiking with friends, and spending time with my family. I am also enrolling in a Spanish course soon with the hopes of improving my language skills!
When did you start working at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California? I first became involved with Shriners as a volunteer in the Therapeutic Recreation/Child Life department. I was a volunteer for almost three years prior to being hired as an Activities Coordinator in December of 2015.
Why did you choose to become an Activities Coordinator? I have always loved working with children – I grew up babysitting and spent my college years working as a nanny. When I graduated from college, I knew that I wanted a career that would allow me the opportunity to continue working with (and for the benefit of) children.
Can you share a bit about what makes your job so rewarding? To me, there is nothing more rewarding than being a part of a child’s journey to recovery. I love knowing that I am able to help normalize the hospital environment for children by creating opportunities for play and recreation. On a daily basis, I am able to see patients progress and recover, grow in their confidence, and rediscover the things they enjoy doing. The most important thing to me is providing opportunities for play so that we can help kids be kids.
How would you describe a good day at work? It is a great day when I am able to spend a majority of my day in our activity area, spending time with our patients and ensuring that they are being provided with the activities and opportunities for play that will help them cope with the stress of hospitalization. That, and when I leave work without paint on my clothes and glitter in my hair!
What would you like the community to know about Shriners Hospitals for Children-Northern California? We would not be able to do what we do without the support of our community, including our many volunteers! Our community is the heart of our hospital, and there are so many ways to join us in supporting our mission. From volunteering to community projects, there are countless opportunities for everyone to get involved and help make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Anything else you would like to share about your job? Working at Shriners has been such a unique experience. You are able to see the power of community put into action and the ability it has to make a difference in the lives of so many children. I hope to forever be a part of that.
Thank you so much, Katie. We know our patients appreciate your fantastic energy and passion for fun!