Alumna’s book helps preschoolers navigate the COVID-19 crisis

Sherri Rose (B.S.’75/N) spent a successful career as a family and pediatric nurse practitioner and hospice and palliative care nurse. Since retiring, she has become a writer and recently published the children’s book “The Teensy Weensy Virus.” She discusses what led her to write a book and how her nursing background has influenced her writing.

Can you share a brief synopsis of your new book?

COVID-19 is a big deal — but with all that adults have to worry about, it’s easy to overlook the pandemic’s impact on children. This book provides a great way for parents and caregivers to introduce and reinforce the importance of safety measures to children, while giving kids the opportunity to ask questions and share their feelings. Embracing the latest science, “The Teensy Weensy Virus” pairs simple, kid-friendly explanations with bright, colorful illustrations, while offering additional resources for adults and an informative song to help lighten the mood as families engage with this serious topic.

How did your nursing background influence your writing?

Only nurses know how much writing is required in nursing school! Yes, that experience assisted me greatly in enhancing my writing skills. Those papers were written in a more scientific style and heavily research-based; however, my little children’s book still includes references and reliable resources — the same as you would do for any patient. It was my nursing background that required me to include an important, empathic introduction to parents, grandparents and caregivers from a scientific standpoint and, of course, with reliable references. Furthering my education in nurse practitioner school, my M.S.N. and a year in a doctoral program in nursing also helped quite a bit. If you are a nurse, you do not author anything without solid, reliable resources.

How did your education at the School of Nursing prepare you for your career?

Oh, my! I wanted to be a nurse since the age of 6. I began my nursing education in Oklahoma but transferred back home to VCU’s MCV Campus in 1973. My education at VCU was truly an outstanding educational experience, whether in my nursing skill set, analytic thinking, management skills, group dynamics, problem-solving, prioritization of nursing care, appropriate responses in an emergency and how to approach every patient as a “family” in a holistic manner. I learned how to assess a patient very closely to identify the best method to educate them in caring for themselves, problem-solve and improve their sense of self-awareness to identify their own health care needs.

I often think, “Once a nurse, always a nurse.” I may be officially retired, but I have advocated extensively for many of my family members as they dealt with health issues. It meant so much to me that I had the skills to do this. It was one of many ways to love my family.

I hear you’re working on your memoirs. Do you have any favorite memories of your time at the School of Nursing you’ll be highlighting?

Oh, yes, how could a nurse ever leave out nursing school in their memoirs? Residing in Cabaniss Hall (all female at the time) was my new “village,” where I studied voraciously with my study buddies, including Mollie Vier Anderson (B.S.’75/N) in particular. I was surrounded by not only nursing students but also young women studying the practices of physical therapy, pharmacy, dental hygiene and more. I also learned to drink coffee (with a lot of milk) to stay up long enough to get ready for the next day or exams. Those early mornings on the floor came oh so early! I spent a lot of time at the library — I am certain it is quite hard for current students to imagine research without computers. Nursing school was quite an arduous road, but it was so important for me to do well. I wanted to be a good nurse; there was so much responsibility. I developed relationships with many faculty members between nursing school (1975) and pediatric nurse practitioner school (1977). Mollie and I were in the first pediatric nurse practitioner certificate class at VCU, and I will undoubtedly be mentioning influential and mentoring faculty in my memoirs. I was delighted that one of my mentors, faculty member Barbara H. Dunn, Ph.D. (B.S.’70/N; Ph.D.’84/SW), was one of several of my endorsers for “The Teensy Weensy Virus.”

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