Hospital Week spotlight: Meet Amy Rothenberg


Amy Rothenberg, Certifed Child Life Specialist

Amy Rothenberg, MA,
Certifed Child Life Specialist

Amy Rothenberg is another example of an exemplary employee at Tucson Medical Center making a difference in patients’ lives. In her role as a certified child life specialist, she helps pediatric patients and families cope with hospitalization. And, believe it or not, they are more than just “bubble blowers” and “toy ladies.”

“We are here to advocate for children in ALL areas of the hospital and to support ALL staff working with children,” explained Rothenberg.

A huge part of their job is to educate children and adolescents about upcoming medical procedures and new diagnoses. Additionally, they provide distraction and support during procedures and educate children and families about coping strategies that they can use in the future.

Child life specialists play a crucial role in helping to normalize the hospital environment and ensure that every experience is child-friendly by offering therapeutic play activities, toys, games, volunteers, pet therapy animals, and special community groups. They also provide grief and bereavement support for any child experiencing a loss.

Child life specialists work throughout the hospital, responding to any area that children can be found. In addition to the general pediatrics floor, this also includes the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the Pediatric Emergency Department and Radiology. Rothenberg primarily works in Outpatient Surgery.

“When children visit the hospital to have surgery, they are often anxious and unsure of what to expect. I first meet them in Pre-Op and explain exactly what they will see and experience so that there are no surprises. We engage in games and therapeutic medical play to help them feel more comfortable, and I am with them when they fall asleep in the operating room,” she explained. “Many of our young patients go to sleep with smiles on their faces and wake up in the recovery room asking for Child Life. All over the hospital, child life specialists help our pediatric patients through hospitalization and scary, sometimes painful, procedures. That is how we touch the lives of pediatric patients at TMC.”

While Rothenberg jokingly reports that one of the more difficult aspects of her job is testing out games for children on the iPad, on a more serious note, she related that what is really challenging is not being able to be in two (or three, or four) places at one time.

“There are so many children for whom we provide care at TMC; we do our very best to see them all, but this is not always possible. Thankfully, there are amazing staff members at TMC who step in when we aren’t available and help to make our jobs a little easier,” she said.  Rothenberg said that when she first began working in healthcare, she was amazed at the ability of modern medicine to save so many very sick children. This really drew her because for her, there is nothing better than to see a sick child get better and go home.

And she loves working at Tucson Medical Center.

“This is such an amazing place to work because of the people whowork here and the children and families that we care for. The staff at TMC are some of the most incredible, patient, compassionate people I have ever worked with. Talk about people who go above and beyond for the patients and families they care for…TMC is full of them,” she said.

As much as Rothenberg enjoys her colleagues and patients, it is clear that she is also highly regarded.

“As a child life specialist in the O.R., Amy has made such a difference to our patients and families. Amy brings with her an important piece of hospitalization that many often overlook: empowering the patient,” said Child Life Supervisor Heather Roberts. “It is by offering education, patience and creativity that Amy is able to clarify children’s misconceptions regarding surgery and help them gain mastery over an otherwise frightening situation. Amy has touched the lives of so many children and teens here at TMC. We are lucky to have had her on our team this last year, and we look forward to many more.”

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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