Giving students the experience to be competitive

Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Studies and Community Development

Lisa Martinelli Beasley standing in front of an elevator

After working for many years as a hospital-based child life specialist, including roles in training and education, Lisa Martinelli Beasley turned her talents to teaching and curriculum development.

At Towson University, Beasley was charged with creating the master’s program in child life, administration and family collaboration, currently the only such program in a tri-state area and one of only 18 graduate programs in North America with a child life focus.

A board-certified art therapist as well as a certified child life specialist, Beasley quickly developed an Introduction to Art Therapy course, now a required graduate course. “Towson University does a great job of hiring individuals with strong clinical backgrounds who can prepare students for direct practice careers,” says Beasley, a member of the advisory board of the Child Life Council (CLC), representing trained professionals in the field who facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practices.

“ Towson University does a great job of hiring individuals with strong clinical backgrounds who can prepare students for direct practice careers. ”

Lisa Martinelli Beasley

As Towson University updated its master’s degree programs to meet new requirements for certification, Beasley undertook a major initiative to develop a combined degree program that allows students to complete a bachelor’s with a family and human services major/introduction to child life track and a master’s in child life, administration and family collaboration in only five years.

Beasley is also co-leading community outreach efforts with Karen Eskow, the associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and a course-related partnership with the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which adjoins the Towson University campus.

“For the last three semesters, we have worked to implement a child life program in the hospital,” explains Beasley. Through coursework, a graduate student group conducted a needs assessment and focus groups to determine departmental needs.

“This student project led to additional conversations with hospital administration and the eventual development of a Child Life Department at GBMC,” explains Beasley. “The first GBMC certified child life specialist was hired in August 2016.” With this type of experience, it is no surprise Towson University students are placed in internships at prestigious healthcare institutions nationwide.