Nurse Practitioner Writes ‘Nola The Nurse’ Children’s Book Collection
By Portia Wofford @lipstickandstethoscope
Many of you were introduced to Dr. Scharmaine Lawson-Baker FNP, FAANP, FAAN in my previous article on how nurse practitioners are redefining affordable healthcare. In addition to being a renowned, award-winning nurse practitioner and entrepreneur she is also the author of the groundbreaking Nola the Nurse series and a pioneer in utilizing technology, in healthcare, during her work with Hurricane Katrina survivors.
Introducing children to the role of the Advanced Practice Nurse
PW: Tell us about Nola The Nurse. How did you come up with the concept?
SB: I was building my baby girl's library of children's books. I quickly noticed that the world of children's literature had a lack of books about nurse practitioners and people that looked like her beautiful brown skin. I was really surprised at my finding. This made me begin writing the Nola The Nurse series. Nola is the abbreviation for New Orleans, Louisiana and is the setting of the first story. Volume 1 of Nola the Nurse: She's On The Go is now translated into Spanish and French.
PW: What is Nola’s background?
SB: The series revolves around Nola, a seven-year-old girl who desperately wants to be a nurse practitioner, like her mom. So, after seeing her mom take care of sick humans, she decides to take care of all her friends' sick baby dolls. The entire neighborhood soon realizes that Nola The Nurse is a nurse practitioner in training and begin to call her when their dolls are in crisis. The real twist to the series is the nod to cultural sensitivity by exploring a new country with each volume. To add, once Nola encounters each culture in every home she visits, she gets to have a meal specific to the featured country. The recipe to every culture, mentioned in the book, is featured at the end of the story.
PW: Why did you decide to use additional characters?
SB: After Nola The Nurse: She's On The Go Volume 1 was published, I received an outpouring of requests for the other advanced practice nurses to also be featured in the series and to include a male nurse. This is when Maddi The Midwife, Bax The Nurse, and Charo The CRNA were developed. All of these characters are APNs. They are all introduced in Nola The Nurse & Friends Explore The Holi Fest. All the books in the She's On The Go series and the Nola The Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina Special Edition book have accompanying coloring books. We have also introduced a plush Nola The Nurse doll. She is the very first NP doll to hit the market.
PW: How many books are in the series?
SB: There are two books currently published in the series with another three waiting to be illustrated. An additional book was written to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It is entitled: Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina Special Edition. All the books in the series are for children 4-8 years old. I also have six activity books that are available to teach children how to write, multiply, and form sentences. These books are for PreK-1st grade.
PW: Are any of the books based on the other characters?
SB: Not at this time. I do have another spin-off from the Nola The Nurse series that will feature Bax The Nurse, but we are waiting to finish up the Nola Christmas book.
PW: What is your mission/goal/hope for Nola?
SB: My overall mission of the Nola The Nurse series is to educate as many children all over the world about the role of the Advanced Practice Nurse. My goal is also to let children know that we are viable members of the healthcare team and that Nursing is the Number 1 trusted profession in America. I always say, "How can our kids aspire to be something they can't see?' My job is to increase the visibility of APNs on the elementary school level. This is where it needs to start.
PW: Tells us about your work after Hurricane Katrina.
SB: After Hurricane Katrina, I was able to single-handedly serve hundreds of patients through my Housecall practice. I provided Primary Care in the homes to many who would otherwise not have received healthcare because of the shuttered hospital systems secondary to the storms aftermath. I was able to serve so many quite quickly because I had a lot of health information data stored in my Palm Pilot. This way, I had their vital information and was able to begin providing care almost immediately because I had their records whereas most hospital systems could not due to lack of files/healthcare info. The utilization of healthcare information technology literally saved my practice and propelled me into new levels of proving early care when it was needed most.
PW: Can you walk us through your typical day, during that time?
SB: I would get up at about 5 am. Eat breakfast. Then begin reviewing my schedule for the day. I had an assistant who would route my visits the day before. This made for a less hectic start. Once we were clear that the patient's insurance was viable, we would confirm the visit. Then, we would ride together to see a patient. Along the way to the home, given the ground level atmosphere, we would see and hear all kinds of things: gunfire, National Guard Hummer trucks, and an occasional military helicopter flying low. The smell is something I am never able to shake to this day. It was the smell of death. Dead animals. Dead people. Death was in the air. It was unforgettable while simultaneously buoying me to "keep moving-- there's work to do, in spite of all that you hear, see, and smell. People need help. Get it done.” I was born for those moments. I was born to serve in that time.
When she’s not authoring books and saving lives, Dr. Lawson-Baker can be found speaking, nationally, at various events or teaching other nurse practitioners to be revolutionary through her Housecalls Course.
Portia Wofford is a nurse, millennial strategist, writer, and rising social media influencer. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for career development--while providing organizations with tools to close generational gaps within their nursing staff. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest.