Women Wednesday: Tricia, Child Life Specialist at Childrens Hospital in Boston

It’s our favorite day of the week; Women Wednesday! Today we are sharing Tricia’s story. Tricia is a certified Child Life specialist at the Children’s Hospital in Boston and an all-around amazing, hardworking single mom who is an inspiration to all. She is filled with energy, fun, and passion. She thrives off of life and her smile is contagious and we know you will be inspired by her passion for life.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Tricia, I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and I am the second youngest of four daughters. My parents were both from a strong heritage of Scottish, French, Irish, English with a wee bit of Native American. Growing up there was always Music playing in the home and a lot of cooking going on which made for lots of laughter, joy and resilience! Life on life’s terms was a mantra that empowered me from a young age to always see the light and look at the glass of life as half full not half empty! I believe in seizing the day and love seeing each day as a brand new adventure. Therefore, I love traveling, meeting new people and smiling often. I also enjoy beginning each morning with a walk on the beach at 5:00 a.m. with my dog Buddy. I spend my weeks visiting friends, watching cooking shows on the Food Network and cooking a delicious meal. This allows me to clear my mind before working closely with children at Boston Children’s hospital.

  How did you decide to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, was this always a dream of yours?

As I take a look back at many of my life experiences becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist was a journey that was never an accident but meant to be! Growing up, when I experienced my first hospital visit, I remember looking around and noticing how kind the Medical staff were to me. As a child, I was so scared being in this environment, but the doctors made me feel comfortable. As I grew up, I became fascinated by this and believed that I had a gift to offer children and families during their hospital experience. My mission that I aim to spread is to empower children and families during these difficult moments. Each morning I prepare for a day filled with creativity and smiles. Gratitude and kindness were always modeled for me by both of my parents, I aim to spread both practices each and every day. As I evolved my career, I studied therapeutic Recreation and minored in Special Education. After speaking with a Career Counselor at Northeastern University in Boston, my I discovered my dream job. It was from that point forward, I set out to gain as much experience with every population to ensure that working in Pediatrics was the perfect fit for me. I firmly believe, “Do what you love and love what you do!”

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 Share with us your experience working for Boston’s Children’s hospital:

I started out in several CO-OP positions my first ironically brought me to a fulltime CO-OP position at Boston Children’s Hospital 20 hours in the Emergency Room. At the time, I was only 23 years old. I learned so much from every child that I interacted with and overcame a variety of challenges in the ER. Some of the most challenging children and families taught me the most about life and what it takes within my soul to truly love this career! There is a term that resonates well in this career and it is called compassion fatigue. When we experience the frontlines of sickness, sadness, and trauma on a daily basis – we must be able to see the light, the love, the good, the healing, the joy and on and on and on. There is always something to be grateful for always, be it a lesson a blessing or both. This first CO-OP was the foundation of many other incredible Work Study experiences. I completed my Internship at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, The Arbour Private Psychiatric Hospital I worked part time evenings and weekend for 5 years in my 20’s while attending College full-time. Additionally, I worked at the Lemuel Shattuck as a work study student. This was a State hospital where I gained valuable experience with a wide variety of ages, stages and life experiences that challenged me both personally and professionally. Each work experience deepened my passion to give and help others be the best self-actualized human being possible. I knew the value of living a balanced life and caring for ourselves so we could care for others.                    

What does a child life specialist do?

As a Certified Child Life Specialist we help normalize the environment during a child and family’s hospital journey. We use Child Development as our framework to meet the child where they are at developmentally. We utilize play as the tool to connect, empower and cope through medical procedures. Sometimes it is we ourselves that are the connecting vehicle! The field of Child Life has grown so much over the last few years and continues to grow around the nation. There are more job openings in the field of Child Life but the jobs are competitive with many entering the field now.

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  What would be your advice for single mothers that juggles a career, personal life and children?

The key for me is to stay balanced, live every day to the fullest and listen to myself and how I feel! If I need quiet time I take time to meditate go for a solo beach or walk in the woods to refuel and recharge my batteries! I know when I feel stressed when I am feeling depleted and run down then it may be time to get more rest and not be able to attend invites to events. I thrive off of experiences, one of my favorite destinations to visit is New York City. My daughter Carly and I visited this summer. We stayed in Manhattan, near NYU and had an amazing experience. We explored from early morning to late evening, discovered new cafés and met amazing individuals along the way. Spend time with the one’s you love and have gratitude for the moment each day.

 Some days are harder than others and we’d like to know what you do to stay positive during challenges that occur?

Rising above uncertainty plays a large role in my journey. In order to do this, we must remain mindful and understand how and why we got there. Own your journey, and take actions to make it better. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react!

 What life event has impacted you in a way that developed internal growth?

In life I have always maintained a strong work ethic. Being independent has allowed me to continuously flourish day after day. If we work hard, we must play hard too. Celebrate life’s littlest moments, spread kindness each day, and explore because life is an unforgettable adventure – let’s make it count!

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