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More About the Child Life Program

Our Director of Child Life and Volunteer Services and Senior Director of Patient and Family-Centered Care at Monroe Carell are Certified Child Life Specialists.

Our child life staff specialists' responsibilities include

  • providing consistent, developmentally appropriate play opportunities, including medical play
  • preparing children psychologically for medical or surgical procedures
  • providing emotional support for patients and families
  • acting as a child and parent advocate
  • educating staff, patients, and families about child development, behavior modification, coping, and distraction structuring programs of therapeutic play

The following areas receive Child Life services:


  • Pediatric Medicine and Acute Care
  • Pediatric Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant
  • Pediatric Surgery, Trauma, and Adolescent Medicine
  • Pediatric Critical Care
  • Pediatric Cardiology
  • Neonatal Intensive Care
  • Adult Critical Care
  • Palliative Care

Outpatient services and clinics

  • Emergency Department
  • Radiology
  • Perioperative Services
  • Orthopedics
  • Hematology/Oncology Infusion
  • Ophthalmology
  • Cardiology
  • Diabetes Clinic

The Child Life Team

Stephanie VanDyke, CCLS
Director, Child Life Services and Volunteer Services
(615) 343-3692

Dee Baddley, MA, CCLS
Orthopedic Clinic
(615) 343-1243

Katherine Bennett, MEd, CCLS
Child Life Team Lead Supervisor and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
(615) 421-8458

Mariah Boatman
Child Life Assistant, Pediatric Emergency Department
(615) 936-1842

Jessika Boles, PhD, CCLS
PRN Child Life
(615) 936-4575

Jaime Bruce, DPH, CCLS
PRN Child Life
(615) 936-4575

Nancy Caldwell, CCLS
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital Vanderbilt at Williamson Medical Center
(615) 435-7847

Jennie Cason, CCLS
Pediatric Emergency Department and PAWS
(615) 936-1842

Cara Clancy 
Pediatric Intensive Care and Behavioral Health
(615) 936-6732

Bekah Gannon, CCLS
Special Events and Donations
(615) 936-4575

Sarah Garnto, CCLS
PRN Child Life
(615) 936-4575

Meredith George, MEd, CCLS  
Inpatient Acute Care and Cystic Fibrosis 

Mary Ann Gill, MS, CCLS
(615) 936-5457

Jessica Goddard, CCLS
Outpatient Hemophilia
(615) 421-8410

Sarah Beth Gray, CCLS
(615) 322-5853

Mary Harrell, CCLS
PRN Child Life
(615) 936-4575

Elise Hirt, M.ED, CCLS 
(615) 936-5457

Cathleen Johnson, CCLS
Child Life Team Lead Supervisor and Radiology
(615) 421-8911

Maile Jones, MEd, CCLS, CIMI
Acute Care Pediatrics/Liver Transplant
(615) 343-4786

Amy Kaufhold, CCLS
Perioperative Services
(615) 936-0016

Claire Kelly, CCLS
(615) 322-5391

Leeanne Lackey, CCLS
Pediatric Eye Clinic
(615) 936-3912

Chloe Lainhart, CCLS
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
(615) 936-5432

Annie Lawrence, M.ED, CCLS  
(615) 936-5457

Monroe Carell, Murfreesboro
(615) 875-6558

Rylee Martin, CCLS
Pediatric Emergency Department and PAWS
(615) 936-1842

Annabelle McGinnis
Child Life Assistant, Inpatient
(615) 936-6132

Erin Munn, MA, CCLS
(615) 936-4472

Morgan Perrotti, CCLS
(615) 322-2113

Emily Powell, CCLS
PRN Child Life
(615) 936-4575

Erin Rothwell
Lead Administrative Assistant 
(615) 936-4575

Timlyn Runiewicz, CCLS
Acute Care Pediatrics/Trauma
(615) 936-4467

Arielle Silverman
Adult Critical Care and Palliative Care Services
(615) 485-7598

Katie Smith, CCLS
Child Life Educator and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit 
(615) 936-5457

Janet Teague, CCLS
Perioperative Services
(615) 936-0016

Jenny Welfare, CCLS
Pediatric Emergency Department and PAWS
(615) 936-1842

Mikalee Whitehurst
Child Life Assistant, Inpatient
(615) 936-6132

Charity Wyatt
Child Life Assistant, Inpatient
(615) 936-6132

Common Questions

I'm interested in becoming a child life specialist. Where should I start?

Visit the Association of Child Life Professionals website. The ACLP provides up-to-date information about the Child Life Certifying Committee (CLCC), the certifying body for all child life professionals. It sets standards for academic and clinical training. The site includes information about courses of study, internships, background of the profession, and certification eligibility. Learn about pursuing certification as a child life specialist.

How can I become a volunteer at Children's Hospital?

Contact Volunteer Services. While many of the volunteers at Children's Hospital are directly supervised by child life staff members, Volunteer Services works with child life and many other groups within the hospital to select, orient, and supervise volunteers.

I am interested in your practicum and internship programs. How can I find out more about the eligibility requirements, application process, and deadlines?

View our links to relevant pages below.

I am a graduate student. Am I still eligible to apply for the practicum or internship programs?

Yes, you may apply whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.

I am not currently enrolled at a university (or will not be enrolled at the time I am considering doing a practicum or internship). Am I still eligible to apply to your program?

Both the practicum and internship experiences require that students be currently enrolled in a college or university. The enrollment status does not have to be a part of a degree-seeking program, but a professor, advisor, or some representative of the school must be able to enter into an educational contract with Vanderbilt and provide supervision during the time a student is part of the practicum or internship. (This may be different for other hospital programs. Consult individual programs for their requirements).

Are the requirements for eligibility to apply to the practicum and internship program flexible (e.g. GPA, volunteer hours, etc.)?

The requirements listed on our website for both the practicum and internship are minimum requirements. Many applicants exceed them. It is important that applicants meet the minimum requirements to be considered for acceptance.

I'm not sure if my course of studies makes me eligible for the certifying exam. Can I send someone my transcript and/or resume and get an opinion?

The Association of Child Life Professionals provides an eligibility assessment to help pre-professionals determine their eligibility in terms of academics and experience for the certifying exam. Learn more about the ACLP's eligibility assessment.

Vanderbilt's child life staff members are not able to offer academic advising or resume support.

I need to shadow a child life specialist because of my own interests or because of a school requirement. How can I set this up?

Because of the large demand for patient care and supervision of child life practicum students and interns, we are not able to provide one-on-one shadowing experiences.

Are there other hospitals in the area with child life programs that provide learning experiences?

There are several hospitals in the southeastern United States with child life programs. Consult the ACLP's listing of child life programs (scroll to bottom of page, look under “directories,” and click on “internship program directory”) and contact each program individually to learn more about their offerings.

How many students do you accept per semester?

We accept the most highly qualified applicants for our practicum and internship experiences. Practicums are offered, unless otherwise noted on our website, during fall, spring, and summer semesters. Internships are offered, unless otherwise noted on our website, during fall and spring semesters only. The number of students accepted each semester depends on our staff’s ability to supervise students and the applicants' qualifications. There is no specific number of spots to fill for each semester.