Hello, It's Nice to Meet You – Nikki Walls Child Life Specialist

This month we’re celebrating our Child Life Specialists. 

Meet Child Life Specialist Nikki Walls. Nikki specializes in supporting children and their families in multiple outpatient services at TMC for Children. She also teaches the Big Brother, Big Sister class – a class to help children adjust to the arrival of a new baby to their family. 

How long have you been in Tucson, what brought you here?
I was not born in Tucson, but I have been here as long as I can remember.

What do you love about Tucson?
I love the feel of Tucson.  The backdrop, the city, the people.
What do you do for fun?
I have young children, so we love to play at the parks, go to the zoo and visit the Children’s museum.  We love the Reid Park Zoo the best.  We know all the names of the animals.
What do you love about your job?
I get to play with kids, watch the anxiety melt off of them and help them through difficult procedures that even adults have a hard time with.  The best part of my of day is when a patient is done with their procedure and walking out the door smiling and waving at all the staff.  That is when I get the most satisfaction because then I know that their experience was good, no matter how invasive the procedure was.
What 3 tips would you give to parents or children that are facing hospitalization, in particular imaging or GI laboratory procedures.
1. Be honest.  Explain who, what, where, when, why and how.  If you don’t know all the answers, look it up or call our department for help.  I would love to give advice over the phone or schedule a tour.  The more a child knows what to expect the better.
2. Be supportive.  Sometimes it is hard for parents to see their children undergo invasive procedures, however, it is very important to stay as calm as possible for your child.  A parent’s anxiety is a child’s anxiety.
3. Come prepared.  Bring anything that will comfort to distract your child.  Blankets, stuffed animals, hand held games… whatever works.
What do you want people to know about Child Life Specialists?
I think people should know that as a Child Life Specialist, I am here to help.  I cover seven different outpatient areas and each area has a wonderful staff that truly care about the kids.  I am here to round out that wonderful staff with all of my resources.  I am able to  truly focus on the emotional needs of the patients allowing the staff to truly focus on their portion of the care.