Last year, we profiled University of Arizona College of Nursing alumnus Michael Dow, who earned a Master of Science for Entry into the Profession of Nursing (MEPN) from the college in 2020. A Renaissance man who has also earned advanced degrees in biology, psychology, management, and health administration, Dow parlayed his nursing skills – and his desire to be a writer -- into an instructional kid’s book series intended to address the deficiencies in our country’s health literacy levels.
His fictional instructor, Nurse Florence – whose first book debuted the week Dow received his RN license -- teaches kids and their parents about human science and the human body. Since then, the Nurse Florence series has expanded to 57 books and won multiple awards, including the 2022 Independent Press Award, a Next Generation Indie Book Award, and a National Indie Excellence Award. Most recently, Nurse Florence won the Independent Press Award for Best Children’s Educational series. As if that’s not enough, Dow is currently developing a new series, Nurse Dorothea, that will cover mental health topics.
We caught up with Dow recently to find out more about the exciting developments in his literary endeavors.
What’s new in the world of Nurse Florence?
For one thing, we’ve increased production. We publish a new book about every 10 days. We’ve also created other lines of Nurse Florence books, including coloring books. We’ve published the first half of the series into Latin American Spanish, and the first 20 into French. We’re on book number five for Russian, and book number two for Korean. We’ll be publishing Spain Spanish next. We have the trademark for Enfermera Florence -- Spanish for Nurse Florence -- which was just registered in the European Union. We’re also doing Nurse Florence for the visually impaired, and we just started a Nurse Florence series for beginning readers.
Interestingly, our “Nurse Florence, What is Cancer?” book won finalist with two different book award programs in the Adult Health category. Our kids’ book has won an adult book award! It makes sense since some feedback we’ve gotten from parents is that as they read the Nurse Florence books with their kids that they’re learning new stuff along with the kids. So, we’re really helping out families, not just elementary kids.
“The mental health series is timely, considering the challenges kids are facing today. My 10-year-old daughter tells me and my wife every week about the anxiety at school surrounding the fear of active shooters. That bothers me. I want to do something like this to educate her and help her and to help others," ~ Michael Dow, UArizona Nursing MEPN alumnus
You’ve accomplished a lot of work this year!
I actually wish we’d do books a little faster because it’s so much fun for me. But now I have close to 50 illustrators. I think when we talked last time I only had about 15. Everybody draws at their own speed. I have a retired AP high school art teacher and we’re doing a book a month because she has so much free time and has a big belief in the project.
Can you tell us about the new series that’s in the works?
We’re trying to raise funding for the next series, which will be about mental health. It’s called Nurse Dorothea after Dorothea Dix, the legendary 20th Century nurse who advocated for better treatment of people with mental illness. We started a Kickstarter campaign to help raise $10,000 to pay an illustrator.
Do you envision the Nurse Dorothea series being as long running as Nurse Florence series?
For Nurse Florence, we’re projecting around 500 books because we’re going to cover all the diseases. But we think Nurse Dorothea will only be around 50 books because mental health topics are not as unending as medical topics. The first book is going to be about mental well-being. Just like I started Nurse Florence to help supplement my kid’s science education, the idea was similar for Nurse Dorothea. So far, my kids really like them. The mental health series is timely, considering the challenges kids are facing today. My 10-year-old daughter tells me and my wife every week about the anxiety at school surrounding the fear of active shooters. That bothers me. I want to do something like this to educate her and help her and to help others.
When will Nurse Dorothea debut?
July 2024. We’re going to do this one a little bit differently. Nurse Florence is a different nurse in every book to represent all races and ethnicities but in Nurse Dorothea, the characters will be the same in every book. It’ll be like a traditional series.
Any other plans for the future?
I do have plans for other kid’s book series, but I really need either Nurse Florence or Nurse Dorothea to take off first. Nursing is a third career for me, but if I get a fourth career, I can easily see it as being a children’s book author doing all these other books ideas I’ve got.
I have a couple more nursing storylines that I want to do. And I’ve actually started the process to reach out to Hollywood literary agents because I would love to see Nurse Florence as an animated TV series and maybe a live-action movie series. I envision them honoring the nursing profession and really highlighting the different roles and responsibilities that nurses have so that there’s more understanding of the hard work that nurses do.