Proud to be part of the MUHC

Nathalie Major, Child Life Specialist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital

"The moments that make me most proud happen when I can help reassure a child that was once terrified of a medical procedure feel more calm, and make it a positive experience," says Nathalie Major, Child Life Specialist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MCH-MUHC) at the Glen site.

Having previously worked in the Emergency Department for several years, Nathalie is now part of the Pediatric Surgical Centre team at the MCH-MUHC. Her role is to prepare patients who will be undergoing surgery with anesthesia, and to accompany and support them on the day of their operation.  She does this by using different types of strategies such as medical play to better explain what to expect in terms that a child will understand. “It’s important to tell children the truth, but the gentle truth about what will happen to them,” she says. “Most children feel more confident and empowered when they understand what is happening and feel a sense of control over things.”

"I use all kinds of strategies to prepare particularly anxious children for an operation,” she says. “I use play techniques to familiarize them with the medical equipment. For example, I give patients the chance to practice breathing in an anesthesia mask, and then have them place it on their teddy bear. I then have them choose a flavor that will put into their mask on the day of their surgery. I also encourage them to choose a special dream to focus on as they are placed under anesthesia or I show them another stress management activity. Patients can then draw the choices they’ve made on a sheet that is then handed over to the surgical team. It makes me especially happy when a child leaves the room all smiles and feeling better about an operation. "

“I feel lucky to play such a pleasant role in these patients’ experience…I see a lot of courage, beauty and authenticity every day.” 

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