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“Comparison is a waste of time and energy” With Sarah Rose Summers, Miss…

Thank you so much for doing this with us Sarah Rose! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was 4 years old I was hospitalized for Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Having never been hospitalized before, my parents and I were traumatized by the experience. I always knew I wanted to work in a children’s hospital but did not want to be the ‘bad guy’ who gave the ‘pokes.’ I got my first degree in Strategic Communication with plans to work in PR for a children’s hospital. Through volunteering at my local children’s hospital, I was exposed to the field of child life, I instantly knew that was the career for me. I graduated with a second degree in child development, completed my clinical rotations, passed the certification exam, and am now a Certified Child Life Specialist — serving as the liaison between the children and families and their medical team to help aid in their understanding of diagnoses, procedures, and more.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

As many students, I learned quickly never to ask a patient ‘are you ready’ for the medicine, the shot, the IV, etc. because they’re never ready nor is it an option. Instead, child life specialists ask children realistic questions to provide them the independence to make their own choices. For example, rather than asking the patient if he/she is ready for the poke, ask if they would rather watch or play a game with their free hand. This eliminates procrastination and provides opportunities for appropriate choices.

Can you describe how your organization is making a significant social impact?

Child life impacts toddler-aged patients who need to learn how to ask for pain medicine in ways he/she can understand. Child life impacts the younger siblings of an organ donor who don’t understand why their older brother’s chest still looks like he’s breathing. Child life impacts families who lose their newborn infant to SIDS by stamping their baby’s footprints onto an ornament for that family to cherish forever. Child life impacts families and medical teams in ways that cannot be put into words. Child Life is a specialized field that I am proud to be a part of.

Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?

There are various history makers in the child life field like the ‘mother of child life,’ Emma Plank. However, I believe the most impactful individuals are the CCLS teachers. My supervisor during my child life internship at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center changed my life. She guided me to become a confident, independent child life specialist, which in turn helped impact twice as many children and families.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Medicine is astonishing and necessary however, we also need to focus on the holistic care of the child including their family unit and personal psycho social needs. Hospitalization can be traumatizing and scaring, they will likely heal and cooperate best if their emotional needs are also met. For example, a patient who cannot see their mother during a conscious procedure will likely scream, cry, and fight back more than a patient being held tightly in their mother’s arms during the procedure.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

A good leader can adapt to all learning styles. For example, I learn best through immediate constructive feedback and occasional encouragements.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. ‘It’s competitive, but it’s worth it.’ I applied to child life practicum positions (a two day a week observation based internship) for five separate seasons to about four hospitals each time before obtaining my practicum position.

2. ‘It can be difficult to transition from a hospital volunteer interacting with patients and families to strictly observing as a practicum student.’ I struggled keeping conversation to a minimum at the beginning of my practicum because I was so used to chatting with children and families as a volunteer. My supervisor had to remind me talking in a patient room was not my place at the time. We all grow from uncomfortable situations like this.

3. ‘You will always remember your first death as a student.’ I was working in the Emergency Department when a trauma patient arrived. The hustle and bustle was almost like what you see in doctor TV shows. She was about three years old with long blonde hair and had internal bleeding and injuries. She died in the ED. I am forever grateful I went through this experience alongside my supervisor rather than as an independent CCLS, having their support through this was important.

4. ‘There is no specific equation for supporting a family.’ Each CCLS will do things a little bit differently and each family responds in their own way as well. This is an important lesson as a student because I often found myself second guessing what my supervisors would do. It became easier and more natural when my supervisor simply encouraged me that each child life specialist is unique and there is not a specific code book for each situation.

5. ‘Remain open.’ Many people ask beginning students what unit they foresee themselves working in, rather they should encourage students to be open to all units. Not just because getting a job is difficult if you are fixated on a specific unit but also because you may fall in love with a unit completely different than what you thought you wanted. Because I love getting to know people and making relationships I thought I wanted to be in a long term care unit like Oncology, however I found that I loved the fast pace, quick rapport building, and various experiences in the Emergency Department.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I desire to help bring child life to the 185 countries without our services to help children and families who are, as I once was, scared and confused. I plan to do so by educating medical personnel on child life strategies they can implement to make a difference on their patients and families lives.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Comparison is a waste of time and energy — when we compare ourselves to another, we will either feel inferior or superior, and neither are life-giving. This fact has been in the forefront of mind since applying for internships while in college, while competing amongst some of the most driven, beautiful, and intelligent women in the world at Miss Universe, while scrolling social media, and beyond.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Kathie Lee Gifford due to her impact internationally. I admire how she stands firm in her faith despite public opinion or trying circumstances. I aspire to utilize the spotlight as she does to help others.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @sarahrosesummers

Blog coming soon: www.sosarahrose.com


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