Cultivating compassion

Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs

November 9, 2020

Sue Robins

Faculty and students in the Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs are partnering with families to promote compassion for families in health care. One of the ways they are doing this is through collaboration with Sue Robins, Canadian author and health care advocate.

For Robins, family engagement took on new meaning when her son Aaron was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Already familiar with health care through positions including a staffing clerk and hospital administrator, Robins was unprepared for the frustrations she experienced as a family caregiver in a disjointed health care system. Robins wrote Bird’s Eye View: Stories of a Life Lived in Health Care as a springboard for social action - a manifesto of sorts to encourage compassion and positive change in health care.

Bird's Eye View by Sue Robins

School of Nursing pediatric nurse practitioner students in their final semester read the book as part of the Families as Teachers program, where students partner with families to learn about their experiences in health care and their advice for future providers. Students found the book to be relatable and full of practical strategies for enacting compassion in everyday encounters with families. Students in the course developed a discussion guide based on the book, and Robins has incorporated this guide into a series of lesson plans for health care students and professionals. These lesson plans based on the book are available free of charge to educators and learners from any health care or academic organization. Lesson plans are available on topics including storytelling, disclosing a diagnosis, family caregiving and family-centered care. Lesson plans are available at