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Making Doctors, Needles & Tests Less Scary Month

social worker and child
At Make-A-Wish, March is special because we celebrate both Social Work Month and Child Life Month. It’s an overdue opportunity to recognize two significant professions – pediatric social workers and child life specialists!

The Role of Social Workers and Child Life Specialists in Healthcare

In hospitals and medical centers, both professions provide support to families while making it easier to navigate the difficult time for the child. They are often the pillars of stability in hospitals. While doctors may change from one hospital unit to the next, the social worker and child life specialist remain constant.

Each Plays a Different Role
Pediatric social workers help families navigate and coordinate care while helping them cope with the logistics and emotional burdens that come with having a critically ill child. They help patients and families better understand the medical condition and treatment plans and guide them through how to access public resources and services, such as counseling, support groups, and other helpful programs, such as Make-A-Wish. Child life specialists help children cope with stress and uncertainty of illness, disability, trauma, loss, and bereavement. Whether it’s therapeutic play or listening when the child needs to talk, these professionals are important in helping kids better manage being in the hospital.

But They’re on the Same Team
Although child life specialists and pediatric social workers are different professions, both are integral parts of the child’s treatment time in the hospital, often helping the family from the point of diagnosis to the child’s discharge. Erica SandovaI, LMSW, Director, Medical, Volunteer & Community Engagement at Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York explains what it means to be a pediatric social worker. “There are similarities and some overlap, but we’re all working to support the family and the child throughout their medical treatment within a hospital setting.”

Both pediatric Social Workers and Child Life Specialists refer children to Make-A-Wish. Watch the videos below to learn how these medical professionals view the importance of wishes as part a child’s plan of care.


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