Eileen Wasson, RN, MSN, CCRN, easily can trace her interest in nursing back to a day when she was 3 years old.
“My neighbor was baby-sitting me and she took me into her nursing closet,” Wasson said. “There was her cape and her cap and all that. She let me try it on. I always knew (I’d be a nurse).”
Now more than two decades into her nursing career at Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Cedar Crest campus in Allentown, Pa., Wasson and colleague Angela Strausser, RN, CCRN, are hoping to inspire today’s children to go into nursing.
Wasson and Strausser, who work together on the trauma neuro ICU, recently enjoyed the culmination of a five-year collaborative effort as authors of the recently released children’s book, “Mommies and Daddies are Nurses,” which they self-published and released late last summer.
“We just knew we had to get the word out about what we do because we’re so pumped up about what we do,” Wasson said. “It’s such a cool profession. How could you not want to share it, especially with little kids?”
Wasson’s 8-year-old daughter, Emily, was 3 and Strausser’s daughter, Alexandra, and son, Shane, were 8 and 5, respectively, when the project first began.
“Eileen and I both were really avid book readers to our children,” Strausser said.
While their children were young, the RNs sought out books to explain what nurses do.
“There really wasn’t a whole lot out there,” Strausser said. “You can always find a book about a fireman and a policeman. But when it comes to the medical profession as a whole, there really isn’t a whole lot there.”
At a local library’s discarded book sale, they discovered a 1956 book that featured a nurse wearing a cap and cooking meals at a stove.
“It’s all sweet and everything, but it’s just not really reality today,” Wasson said. “I went into work one night frustrated. The more we talked about it, it [became], ‘Well, why don’t we write one?'”
So Wasson and Strausser began by writing about various specialties, including OR nurses, military nurses and nursery nurses. They spent a couple of years looking for a publisher before seeking out an artist to advance the project, which was designed for children ages 3 to 7.
The authors worked with illustrator Roey Ebert, who is Wasson’s cousin, to depict the different races, cultures and genders of today’s nurses.
Despite reaching numerous dead ends while seeking out a publisher over the past five years, they persevered.
“In May, we just decided, ‘Let’s self-publish,'” Strausser said. “It’s a neat thing to have a completed project. It was our vision to have a book to expose children at a young age to nursing.”
The book, which is available online at amazon.com, authorhouse.com and barnesandnoble.com, has opened many doors for Wasson and Strausser.
They have been invited to appear at conferences and read to children’s groups.
Thanks to support from Lehigh Valley’s nursing administration, Wasson and Strausser also have taken part in book signings at the hospital.
“It was really terrific,” Wasson said. “They’re pumped up about what nurses do.”
Some of the best feedback they’ve received is from fellow nurses. “We’ve met a lot of great people,” Strausser said.
One colleague recently bought two copies of the book for her 3-year-old twins. After reading the book each night, the twins sleep with the books, Wasson said.
One OR nurse purchased two copies for young relatives and planned to cut out a picture of herself and paste it over the OR nurse in the book so the children know about her work.
In the coming year, Wasson and Strausser are looking forward to attending pediatric conferences, getting the book into places such as day care facilities, physicians’ offices and preschools, and even are exploring having the book printed in another language.
Their days as authors may not be limited to one book, either.
“We were thinking about maybe trying to make a series about people you would find in a hospital,” Strausser said.
Barry Bottino is a regional editor.