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Child Life Month – Meet Katie

Published by , on Mar 26, 2015

Next up in our Child Life Month Month blog series

Meet Katie Barber, CTRS

There isn’t much Katie Barber won’t do for her patients – including taking a pie to the face to help #WhipChildhoodCancer! Watch 10-year-old Thomas share a whip cream pie (topped with sprinkles!) with Katie.

Q & A with Katie

Q: How long have you worked at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR)?
I’ve been with CHoR for over 25 years!
I worked on the Brook Road Campus in recreation therapy for 16 years before comming to the ASK Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic on the MCV Campus.

Q: Why did you decide to become a child life specialist?
I always knew that I wanted to work with children but I also wanted to do something in the medical field. Child life and therapeutic recreation fulfilled both of those areas for me.

katie pie

Thomas had a ball giving Katie a whip cream pie to the face as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the #WhippingChildhoodCancer campaign.

Q: What’s your day like as a child life specialist in the hematology and oncology clinic?
Having cancer or a blood disorder can be scary for a child – but also for their siblings and family members. I help provide a sense of normalcy when life seems anything but normal for our families. I do medical play, procedure preparation and provide fun distractions. I also help run our patient and family support groups.

Some days I play a game of Go-Fish with a child while they get chemo – and other days I comfort and support a newly diagnosed family and help explain the road ahead in terms that are developmentally appropriate for a child. Being around our kids makes even the hardest day worth it.

Caring for children is about so much more than just treating their illness. It sounds cliche, but it’s really about treating the whole child and their family – their medical, mental, psychosocial, spiritual and developmental needs. Our clinic is really fortunate to have an entire team dedicated to our kids. We have doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, educational consultants, a chaplain and psychologist.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Working with patients, siblings and families. They teach me something new every day.

Important things kids want to know…

Q: What’s your favorite children’s book?
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Q: What’s your favorite color?

Q: What’s your favorite food?


Has Katie or another child life specialist at CHoR made a difference in your child’s life? Share your story below.

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