"You go to work and there are settings in which for all the people you meet, today is the day they will never forget."
These are the words of the brilliant mind, Dr. Perri Klass, addressing the need to never forget the human element of the medical profession. A professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University and Co-Director of NYU Florence, she is a mentor to many who leads with a wise and compassionate heart.
This walk is an intriguing and fascinating personal reflection of how her passion for science, medicine and writing led her on the path of becoming a sought-out, highly respected pediatrician, journalist, healthcare advocate, and author.
She is also National Medical Director for Reach Out and Read, a national program that continues to help millions of children by promoting early literacy through pediatric clinics, through the administering of advice about reading aloud to and with children, and through the distribution of children’s books provided at routine well-child visits.
Through her work with Reach Out and Read, Dr. Klass has been able to integrate her commitment to the health care of young children with her love of the written word, inspired by her mother at a very young age.
"When I think about children growing up in homes without books, I have the same visceral reaction as I have when I think of children in homes without milk or food or heat: it cannot be, it must not be. It stunts them and deprives them before they've had a fair chance."
Her new book, A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future, an account of how victories over infant and child mortality have changed the world, was published in October by Norton. The New York Times said, “A Good Time to Be Born is an ambitious, elegant meditation on what the doctor-writer Perri Klass describes as one of our greatest human achievements: a reduction in child mortality... she takes the most complex human patterns of all — history, medicine, politics, art — and knits them into something unique and beautiful.”
According to Klass, "The book is about how clever we are, we humans, the things that we figure out. The ways that we actually make progress. It's about science, but it's also about public health, it's about parent activism, it's about people solving problems. This pandemic has been a reminder of the power of the microbial world that we are living in, that we are a part of. But it should also be a reminder of what humans beings can do in terms of cleverness, in terms of cooperation, and in terms of understanding that we are all in this together."
She writes the weekly column, “The Checkup,” for the New York Times Science Section and is the co-author, with Dr. Eileen Costello, of Quirky Kids: Understanding and Supporting Your Child With Developmental Differences which has just been published in a fully revised new edition by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Klass attended Harvard Medical School and completed her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Boston.
To learn more about Dr. Klass and her work, visit her website at https://www.perriklass.com/
For more about the Reach Out and Read Program, visit https://www.reachoutandread.org/
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