June 18, 2021
Grace Storybook Series Champion Healthy Lifestyle
April 24, 2020
By Kenneth E. Korber, PA, DFAAPA
It has been 25-plus years since surviving and graduating from PA School — wow!
My journey has taken me from the operating suite to the bedside and to the clinic, with multiple stops along the way sharing my experiences with my peers at a variety of CME events.
I am now back to my primary care roots, but in a new and refreshing way — one that affords me the opportunity to advocate for preventive medicine and the creation of “little health ambassadors.”
I’ve found a second career as a published children’s book author. It is a way to create characters and stories that encourage reading skills among 3- to 6-year-olds; introduce music vocabulary to younger children; and promote health and wellness themes and carry empowering messages — all through resources that are sensitive to the health literacy of emerging readers.
The characters created in my Musical Adventures of Grace storybook series have become strong spin-off story champions of a healthier lifestyle, and they reinforce the guidance offered by my clinical colleagues in family medicine and pediatrics, such as “don’t eat too much salt,” “exercise is good for you,” “try to cut back on sugar in your diet,” “brush your teeth twice a day,” and “it’s okay to think you are different”.
We can now extend reinforcement of this anticipatory guidance beyond the inadequate 5- to 10-minute office visits we sometimes encounter in daily practice.
Wouldn’t it be nice of our waiting room had a storybook and posters that showed an orchestra conductor promoting oral health by swinging a tooth brush, rather than his baton, like in “Grace’s Big Smiles Surprise”?
Wouldn’t it be nice if one of our patient’s anxiety or sadness about “being different” was met by a giraffe who became a hero because he was different from the other animals, like in “Laugh|Laugh With Larry the Giraffe”?
Wouldn’t it be nice if the youngest member of the family better understood the importance of the adult lessons learned during fire prevention week, like with “Grace + Friends: Burn Prevention and Fire Safety Activity Book”?
Wouldn’t it be nice if anxious parents had a kid-centric resource that better communicated the “new normal” behaviors we are experiencing during the 2020 pandemic, like “Grace Fights COVID-19: A Training Manual for the Musical Adventures Bug Squad”?
I have also partnered with a Swedish chef to create a Cooking With Grace series, and Grace will be getting an electric guitar from a Hall of Fame Rocker-character, in the upcoming “Grace’s Rockin’ Roll Adventure.”
Grace and her crew will have many more new adventures to come. And as long as there are pediatric patients to care for, there will be a corresponding musical adventure to enjoy – making a sometimes-scary experience a little less scary.
My advice for my fellow PAs is to recognize the importance of what you know (use it for good), relish what you can do for the community you live in (be a healthcare leader), and strive to create the best health outcomes for each of your patients and their families!
Kenneth E. Korber, PA, DFAAPA is president of Korber Enterprises LLC, and CEO for the nonprofit Center for Functional Learning Ltd. Contact him at [email protected].