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Two Northern Medical Program students pen educational children’s book.

Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic allows us to, hopefully, finish off some projects around the house.

For two Northern Medical Program grads, it has given them the opportunity to finish writing a book that uses their knowledge as medical students to help educate children.

The book is called You are Made of Cells and and is part of Asa’s Adventures. It follows the exploits of Asa, Rory, her Grandpa as they learn about cells.

“It’s just to help educate children about the fact everything around them, animals and humans, are made up of cells,” said co-author Hermeen Dhillon. “Ours is a bit more scientific than other books that I’ve seen. We don’t try to simplify words, we try to teach them as they are so they can pick up the terminology early on.”

Dhillon and Caleb Dusdal, both fourth-year medical students in the Northern Medical Program in Prince George, started writing the book last fall. Students do get some flex time while studying to pursue personal interests, in the context of medicine.

“Both of us were interested in education in general and kids in particular,” said Dusdal. “We noticed a bit of a void, where kids could have more foundational knowledge that will help them in the future … For us it was a passion project.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the pair all of a sudden had some extra time on their hands and focused their energies on getting the book completed.

“Around the time it hit, we were pulled off our rotations, just to make the hospital a safer environment,” said Dhillon. “It was replaced with learning from home and self-educating our ourselves.”

The book is a passion-project for the students, so they took the time to self-publish the book and the first copies were published just over a month ago.

“We thought it was especially important (to get the book published) because kids are out of school and a lot of people are stuck at home with their kids,” said Dusdal. “It seemed like an ideal opportunity to give them something to entertain themselves, to engage them.”

The book is aimed at kids eight years old and younger and they have been pleasantly surprised that some kids as young as three years old have enjoyed the book. They are hoping to eventually get some of the books into schools, however the pandemic put a halt to that, for now. But hope do some readings on schools in the future. They are set up as a non-profit organization. All the revenues raised from the book currently go back into producing the books and cover their costs.

They hope to do more books in the future, even though they will be very, very busy with their residencies … Dhillon will be doing family practice in Surrey and Dusdal will be doing his residency in Calgary.

“I think we sabotaged ourselves with that but also made it likely for future titles,” Dusdal said with a laugh. “There’s sort of a cliff-hanger at the end of this book that leads into the second book.”

It will be a juggling act, however, with the way the Northern Medical Program works, there will be new students looking for projects and this one may fit the bill for someone.

“Our mission was set up on purpose to be general for children’s education in these areas,” said Dusdal. “Our hope is that there will be some creative people who come behind us that we can support for their own projects.”

You Are Made of Cells is now on Amazon as an Ebook and paperbacks recently were finished and can be ordered from their website

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