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: Erin Carpenter
Occupation/Title: Certified Child Life Specialist
Interests / Hobbies: I love to travel around the globe! One of my favorite things to do is go on adventures and experience new cultures. In fact, I plan to travel to Peru and New Zealand this year. I also love to hike, go to the beach, and spend time with family and friends.
When did you start working at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California? I started working at Shriners two years ago (on St. Patrick’s Day!) Before working as a Child Life Specialist, I volunteered in the TR/CL department.
Why did you choose to become a Child Life specialist? As soon as I learned about Child Life, I knew it was the ideal career for me. It perfectly combines my passions of working with children, education, speaking Spanish, and helping others.
Can you share a bit about what makes your job so rewarding? Being involved in the hospitalization journey of a child and their family can be very rewarding. I work primarily with the burn population, where I often meet patients in the ICU when they are not initially alert. It’s incredible to watch them slowly recover, help them cope, and gradually witness their personality and normal self shine through as they improve.
How would you describe a good day at work? My ultimate goal each day is to make a child laugh! If I can take the pain, stress, and anxieties away, even for a brief moment, and have a child truly be themselves with me I am overjoyed. No two days are the same and no two children are the same, that is one thing I love about this job. I never know what to expect each day, and constantly learn so much from these strong and spirited children, they are my inspiration.
What would you like the community to know about Shriners Hospitals for Children-Northern California? Shriner’s is an incredible hospital. My job takes me all over the building so I get to work with many different disciplines. Every day, I get to see the passion the staff shares as they collaborate to treat and help pediatric patients
Anything else you would like to share about your job? A hospital can be a tough place to for kids. It is so fulfilling to be able to support these children, help them through their challenges, and together find the positives even in the hardest of circumstances.
Thank you so much, Erin. We appreciate everything you do for our patients and families.