Success & Impact

Alumnae-Authored Book Series Introduces Children to Healthcare as Early as Infancy

The books explore topics ranging from over-the-counter medications and healthcare careers to how and why medications are prescribed.

A group of four children sitting around a table reading

by Diane Holliday

Young children may experience a range of emotions when navigating the world of healthcare: fears about visiting the doctors office, embarrassment about needing to take medications or perhaps excitement about a future career in the healthcare field. Through a shared commitment to patient education, two Philadelphia College of Pharmacy alumnae, Demetra Tsapepas, MBA, USP ’03, ’06 (PharmD) and Farihah Amatullah USP ’16 (PharmD), along with their colleague Hanlin Li, PharmD, MBA, have authored an “ABC” series of children’s books that addresses these topics and more.

The three colleagues met in New York a decade ago during various stages of their careers. Tsapepas is now a pharmacist who focuses on quality, education and healthcare research; Amatullah is a specialty pharmacy expert, informaticist and artist; and Li is a practicing clinician who specializes in chronic disease management and conducts clinical research.

Through patient care and interactions, they gained a mutual passion for growing their patients’ medical literacy — a passion that eventually expanded beyond the workday.

“We’re always trying to think of ways to ensure we have patient interaction and patient engagement, and to share our knowledge with these individuals,” says Tsapepas. “This led us to a variety of projects over the years, most recently writing books where we can continue these conversations in the ‘non-work’ space.”

Book cover of ABC Healthcare Careers for me with illustrations of children as healthcare professionals
“ABC Healthcare Careers for Me” is one of six books in the ABC series.

Their “ABC” book series covers topics ranging from over-the-counter medications and tools used in healthcare, to healthcare careers, nutrition and life skills. They’ve also written a storybook on how a prescription becomes a medicine. The books can be used as early as infancy through adolescence and help parents introduce new topics and terminology to their children.

“‘ABCs of the Most Common Over-the-Counter Medications’ can be used as early as two-months old. We incorporated OTC structures and high-contrast images for babies and infants who can’t see color yet,” says Amatullah. “As we go through the series, the target audience and age varies; we cover nutrition, how medicines are made, how the pharmacy process works — we want to get children introduced to those ideas.”

Through their own experiences as parents and aunts of young children, the authors identified a gap in the market for this type of literature. While they’ve found STEM books on the ABCs of engineering and even quantum physics, there was no comparable book on healthcare or pharmacy.

Illustration of an animated RX script sitting on top of a pill bottle on a hill
"Trip with Rx: Adventure of A Medicine" introduces children to the process of how a prescription travels from the provider to the pharmacist to the patient.

“Healthcare education doesn’t just have to happen to adults or those in a disease state. Education should be readily available to everyone,” says Li. “We have a lot of pediatric patients who need to take medications and sometimes feel embarrassed about it. How, as a parent, do you teach your child to overcome that?”

Tsapepas, Amatullah and Li say the series has been highly collaborative, with Amatullah even creating all of the artwork. While becoming children’s book authors on top of their day jobs has been unexpected, in a way, Amatullah says they’ve been preparing for it all along.

“In pharmacy school, you have to be detail oriented and creative because you don’t always have the resources to implement what you want,” she says. “While I never would have imagined we were going to write children’s books, those experiences and an understanding of our audience allowed us to come up with a unique solution to educate children about healthcare.”

Interested in learning more about the ABC book series? Follow along on social media at @alt_healthcare_education. Also be on the lookout for their next book, “Drugs that Changed the World,” due out spring 2023.