Andrea Lerude is a certified child life specialist on the inpatient neuroscience floor at Boston Children’s Hospital. She’s worked at Boston Children’s for more than five years.
What does your job involve?
As a child life specialist, I provide developmentally appropriate coping support to children in the hospital, in the form of play. Basically, I try to make the hospital feel as safe and comfortable as it can for our patients.
What do you love most about your job?
I love being able to help a child to smile in the darkest of times, whether it’s by helping them understand what’s going on or offering them pet therapy or a special program. It feels like a privilege every day to do what I do. The families I work with are often in a vulnerable state, and it’s a really big deal for them to let us in and to allow us to walk the journey with them.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
When patients who, for instance, have achieved seizure freedom and left the hospital come back with new symptoms. But, even though this is the hardest part, I try to see it as an opportunity to work with them to help them overcome those new challenges.
What’s one of your favorite memories from working with families?
We had a 3-year-old patient with a brain tumor who was from another country. When she first arrived, she was having a really hard time and would scream every time someone walked into her room. I started playing with her, using Play-Doh and other toys, showing her that there could be safety and fun in the hospital. She began asking for certain nurses by name and wanted to play. I was ultimately able to help her trust the team and she became one of our most cherished patients.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I used to be a competitive gymnast. I don’t compete anymore, but I still follow women’s gymnastics and am an avid fan. Aly Raisman is my favorite — even though she’s retired now, she’s still amazing.
What three words would you use to describe your job?
Play, wonder, and journey.
What music is on your phone right now?
I’m a huge country music fan, so the majority is country music, but I’ve also been listening to a lot of Maggie Rogers. And my favorite band of all time Johnnyswim, who are a husband and wife duo.
What’s your favorite game?
My favorite game growing up was mancala — I love the strategy behind it, and could play it for hours. My favorite game now is Uno because I can adopt it to use with kids of all ages. I’ve been able to do so much with it, like using the colors to talk about feelings and getting the kids to open up about their feelings that way.
You’ve got a day off. What are you doing?
Probably doing some yoga and definitely reading a book. Right now, I’m in the middle of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which I’m really enjoying. I also love to travel, so I’m probably also researching the next place I want to travel — I think Texas is next on my list.
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