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Amanda Banker brings joy as a Child Life Specialist

March is Child Life Month, a month where hospitals celebrate child life specialists and the Child Life profession through education and awareness of their work. To honor these dedicated professionals during the month of March, CMN Hospitals will highlight the top 10 nominees submitted for the 2020 Delta Child Life Specialist of the Year award.

Helping children be happy is always at the top of Amanda Banker’s “ta-da” list — she doesn’t believe in “to-do” lists. 

As a Child Life Specialist at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Amanda is a champion for the children she works with. Her department serves patients 365 days a year from 6:30 in the morning until midnight. They are always there to make the hospital experience better for patients, their families, and medical staff. 

Amanda believes in the importance of play. She works to engage the entire family in constructive fun with the patient during their hospital stay. This often takes creative thinking and adaptation, but Amanda always finds a way to bring a little joy to everyone. She even created infant stimulation boxes with tips and tricks for families to encourage engaging play for even the smallest patients undergoing treatment. 

Along with equipping families to better support patients, Amanda has also dedicated her time to educating and supporting staff to do the same. 

At “comfort workshops,” Amanda trains hospital staff and builds on their strengths to help them support the psychological needs of patients when Child Life Specialists aren’t present. The interactive trainings use developmental and procedural role-playing scenarios to help doctors and nurses create standardized routines. They also teach them to recognize coping signs that can be used to empower patients with effective communication. 

Amanda has seen the positive results basic coping skills and communication can have for patients. 

One young boy was at Riley Hospital for an extended period of time working through a range of medical and social concerns. He was struggling to trust anyone, but Amanda worked hard to match her interventions with his social and emotional needs, as well as his medical needs. She carefully assessed his progress and adjusted her approach throughout his lengthy stay, developing a rapport and earning his trust. She consistently engaged him in positive play to help him learn about what was happening to him and process it in a healthy way. 

The skills that this patient learned during his experience working with Amanda continue to help him today. He likes to drop by Amanda’s office and brag about his progress whenever he comes to the hospital for outpatient appointments. 

Amanda Baker loves everything that has anything to do with Wisconsin, her home state. She has three sons and is an avid beach volleyball player. 

Child Life Specialists help normalize the hospital experience and bring joy and comfort to hospitalized kids and their families. Many of the funds raised by CMN Hospitals are used to fund Child Life programs and help make up the gap between what government and insurance pay for and the actual cost of caring for kids in our member hospitals.