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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — A group of students at the University of Kentucky is working to fill much-needed roles in the healthcare industry. They’re working to become child life specialists.

The new UK Child Life Certificate program was launched this past fall semester by the UK Department of Family Sciences in partnership with Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Through courses and hands-on internships, students involved will get the experience they need to eventually become certified child life specialists. The roles of these specialists are to comfort families and children when it comes to the process of pediatric care. With a combination of courses and internships, students can play a major role in filling a growing field.

This is the first program of its kind in Kentucky. Certified child life specialist with the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Emily Bollinger said location played a role in making the process smooth for students who choose this path.

“To be able to provide everything they need to pursue this career as students on UK’s campus is a really unique position that we’re in.  The certificate kind of takes advantage of some of those resources to support students and in pursuing it.,” Bollinger said.


UK Department of Family Services Academic Coordinator Pam Mcfarland said some of the students in this program had great experiences with child life specialists in the past, leading them to spread their passion to others.

“We find a lot of students and I have advised and talked to. they somehow had a personal connection in a hospital early on in life. And so they want to give back. And so this is an opportunity to turn it into an actual career for them,” Mcfarland said.

More information on the program can be found here.