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: Kat Davis
Occupation/Title: Certified Child Life Specialist
When did you start working at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California?
I’m the newest member of the child life team. I have worked at Shriners Hospital since September 2015. Before that, I was a “traveling” child life specialist, working for UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) and the Providence system in Portland, Oregon. I’m originally from Madison, Wisconsin, where I had my own child life program at a hospital there. Go Badgers!
Why did you choose to become a child life specialist?
I was always interested in working in medicine, but I wasn’t sure exactly how until I met a child life specialist when I was in high school. I had one of those “aha!” moments and knew immediately that this was the career path for me. It’s the best job I can imagine, and I feel so lucky to be able to do it every day.
Can you share a bit about what makes your job so rewarding?
I have the opportunity every day to take a situation that is initially really scary for a child and family and turn it into something not so scary, or even something fun. I get to make things easier for children and families and give them the opportunity to master a tricky situation. Helping children and families cope with surgeries and hospitalization really makes me feel like I’m putting a little happiness back into the world, even on a small scale.
How would you describe a good day at work?
A good day at work is when I get to see a child smiling and giggling on the way back to the operating room and the smiles of relief on parents’ faces when they realize that their child isn’t terrified, but is actually comfortable with the process.
What would you like the community to know about Shriners Hospitals for Children ─ Northern California?
Shriners is an incredible place of healing, joy, and fun. It’s a magical place.
Anything else you would like to share about your job?
Our team is small, but mighty! There are only three of us (child life specialists), and we cover six days a week. Also, we love getting calls from medical staff to help brainstorm ways to help a child cope with any challenge they come across during hospitalization. We all have specialized training on child development and psychology specific to the healthcare environment, and we have a lot of tricks and tools to help and support kids and families. That’s why we say, “please page us!”
Thank you, Kat! We appreciate your energy and joy and we know our patients and families are grateful for you too!