Nathaniel Patton

Nathaniel Patton

Human Development and Family Science

2020 grad now an Advanced Child Life Specialist in the emergency department at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


Master of Science in Child Life, 2020

Current occupation/Location

Advanced Child Life Specialist; Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

What has been your proudest accomplishment since graduating?

I'm fortunate enough to have been twice awarded the hospital-wide POPPIES award for excellent support staff care here at CHOP. This achievement highlights impactful work done by clinical staff with each nomination coming from a patient or family that the recipient has worked with. While working in the emergency department, I typically don't see the long-term impact child life services has on patients as our interactions can be so brief. I feel that being nominated for, and subsequently awarded, this honor validates the hard work that I strive to provide in stressful situations. 

What was your favorite class in FACS?

Therapeutic Benefits of Play with Dr. Diane Bales! The format of this class allowed students to create and act out exciting ways to play while melding a therapeutic approach. These approaches can often feel cold and sterile in a clinical setting, but this class allowed for a safe place to get creative and realize that difficult topics can be adapted to be warm and inviting. This class is a topic I reflect on constantly and I've seen more participation and success with patients when calling on what I learned.

Did you have a favorite – or most memorable – faculty member?

Absolutely, Dr. Diane Bales. She has dedicated much of her professional life to supporting child life students through the most stressful times of becoming certified and is always willing to be a sounding board and hype-woman. Whenever I was stressed or overwhelmed with school or applying to internships, she was there to assure us that anything was possible and that we were, more importantly, already prepared. Dr. Bales embodies what an advisor, professor and mentor should be. I could write pages about her compassion but will leave it at this: I could not have gotten through grad school without her. 

How do you think FACS prepared you for your career success?

The nature of the M.S. in Child Life program placed us alongside undergraduates as well as Ph.D. students in lectures, projects and graduate assistantships. The collaboration that we were afforded made me a team player who feels comfortable asking for help and is likely to better understand the differences between people; ultimately using these differences as a strength. FACS and HDFS truly want the best for their students and have a multitude of ways to support students professionally and financially. This ultimately made focusing on school work and our future careers easier. 

What inspires or motivates you?

I thank UGA for my desire to seek further opportunities of growth. It is too easy to come to work, do your job and go home but this often leaves you feeling stagnant. FACS and HDFS have opportunities to be involved on campus, in research, to further your job experiences or career, so it was a norm to have our hands in so many "pots" throughout school. Once in my field, I found myself quickly desiring more, even as a brand-new specialist! It is so apparent that the drive UGA instills is unmatched and will take you far wherever you go, if you allow it. 

What advice would you give a current FACS student looking to pursue a career in your field?

It goes without saying that child life is an immensely competitive field to get into. This is a daunting reality but one that a FACS student is fully prepared for if they are willing to put in the work. All of the supports are in place to help you succeed.

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