From my perspective, the best way to enhance your Child Life practice is to have a comprehensive understanding of the team you are supporting. For Child Life Specialists working in sedation, this means we need to immerse ourselves in all things related to sedation/anesthesia, while at the same time being cognizant about our scope of practice. We need to learn about medications and their side effects, so that we can provide developmentally appropriate, complementary education to our patients and their families. We need to learn about the sedation continuum and the recovery process, so that we are able to contribute to conversations about assessment. We need to be familiar with a seemingly never-ending catalogue of procedures and scans so that we are able to provide procedural support and promote more effective coping.
In my opinion, the most effective way meet this challenge head on is to attend the Society for Pediatric Sedation annual conference. The conference provides an opportunity to learn about clinical practice, network with our colleagues and maintain our credentialing. All of the offered sessions are interesting and informative, but I’ve highlighted a few that might be of particular value for Child Life Specialists working with Sedation/Anesthesia Teams.
On Day One, there will be a plenary discussion about designing a sedation unit. Facility upgrades are common in healthcare and Child Life Specialists can speak to how the environment contributes to a positive experience for patients and their families. Considering environmental design becomes even more critical when designing a space to meet the needs of patients diagnosed with autism and other sensory processing challenges. There is a session which will discuss ethical issues in sedation. This session will provide those hard-to-come-by ethics contact hours for Child Life re-certification.
In the afternoon, there are several breakout sessions offered, including one discussing patient/family satisfaction on the sedation unit. Since Child Life is a non-billable service, patient and family satisfaction scores can be used to demonstrate the need for additional staffing. It’s important to be well-versed on how satisfaction is measured and how that data is utilized.
The morning of Day Two will offer several Problem Based Learning Discussions (PBLDs), which are casual roundtable conversations. One of these PBLDs will focus on children who are classified as “too sick” to receive sedation. This has the potential to be a very engaging discussion for Child Life Specialists and the opportunity to advocate for non-pharmacologic interventions. To further highlight the multidisciplinary spirit at SPS, there will be a plenary session which focuses on the evolution of the Child Life role on a sedation team. Child Life is a new profession and our work with sedation teams even more so. This presentation will provide some historical context for our work, highlight the ways in which Child Life can collaborate with sedation teams and offer a vision for the future.
Right after the awards luncheon (which includes the presentation of the Kristine K. Murray Child Life Award and Scholarship) there will be a presentation which demonstrates how social media platforms can be used for advocacy, education and networking by healthcare professionals. I first became more active on social media after attending a very engaging presentation on this topic at SPS 2018. (To see how I am using currently using social media to promote awareness about Child Life, Sedation and Medical Imaging, you can follow me on Twitter @sedationccls.) A breakout session in the afternoon will tackle the complex issue of service recovery and may provide a forum to discuss how to use (and not use) Child Life programming to meet this need.
Day Three starts bright and early with more PBLDs, this time focusing on medications. Medication preference and utilization can vary amongst facilities, so these informal discussions can be a very effective way to learn more about a medication with which you are not very familiar. It can also offer a fresh take on how medications can be utilized effectively with procedures. And our Stump the Experts panel is a favorite, where challenging and unique cases are examined through a multidisciplinary lens. And the questions/comments from the audience always make for a very lively discussion amongst the attendees.
Attending the Society for Pediatric Sedation annual conference in Baltimore this spring can be a rewarding educational experience for Child Life Specialists.