The first rule about virtual book club is join and invite your peers, especially advanced practice providers (APPs) experiencing isolation and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers said at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) National Conference on Pediatric Health Care held March 15 to 18, 2023, in Orlando, Florida.

“The virtual book club allows APPs to talk informally about health care issues and connect with colleagues who they may never interact clinically on a day-to-day basis but allows them to share experiences and help each other grow,” explained study coauthor Cassandra Newell, MSN, RN, CPNP, CPN. “These conversations over book discussions provide a way for APPs to form relationships, which ultimately becomes an extension of our wellbeing. We are all human and do have emotions and feelings including trauma from work. This virtual book club helps foster belonging and may help combat health care provider turnover, which helps keep experienced APPs caring for our patients.” 

“One of our book club selections, Unicorn Space, conveys the concept of purposefully creating time out for yourself without the guilt or shame to pursue creative interests that can help bring you joy outside of your daily work, your family, and your other obligations,” said coauthor Catherine Woods, MSN, RN, FNP. “Author of Unicorn Space, Eve Rodsky, joined us virtually during our conversation and highlighted steps you can take to find what you are curious about, create it, and ultimately find connection and share it with others. Doing so helps with attaining self-awareness and introspection by promoting our best selves and being better health care providers so that we can better care for others. All of this can help combat burnout, which is why we set out on this book club mission!”

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APP Book Club Format

The virtual book club, established in December 2021 at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, included APPs from 11 practice sites up to 190 miles away from each other. The group met once monthly via Microsoft Teams on a rotating weekday and time. The goal of the book club was to “provide a nonclinical opportunity for APPs to participate, engage, develop professionally, and connect,” the study authors noted.

Each book selection fell into 1 of 2 categories: professional development books or health care books. During meetings, virtual book club members used discussion guides to spur conversation about the contents of the book.

At each monthly meeting from December 2021 to December 2022, participants were invited to complete a survey to evaluate demographic data, peer engagement, professional reflection, intention to read professional books, and willingness to invite peers; 60 out of 84 (71%) of virtual book club members completed the survey. 

All survey respondents had over 3 years of experience as an APP, and all 60 survey respondents indicated that they “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that they gained peer connection through the virtual book club, the book and meeting discussion had professional applications, attending the meetings was a good use of their time, and that they would invite a peer to attend a future session.

The virtual book club host invited 13 authors (without compensation) of the selected books to attend the virtual meetings, and 4 authors attended.

Survey respondents indicated via text comments that the virtual book club was an “amazing opportunity” to meet with the authors, and 1 respondent indicated that “I like connecting with other APPs I don’t normally see or directly work with clinically.”

Most Read Book

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman was our most attended book club during this project,” Newell said. “We were very fortunate to have author Anne Fadiman join us, which brought so much depth to the understanding of the book and message.”

“Although the case was reported in the early 1990s about a family and health care team’s dichotomous view of the care for a Hmong child with a complex care plan and journey with epilepsy, there are applicable areas of culturally appropriate care for us to apply today,” said the guest host of one of the book club meetings.

“As APPs, we are always looking for ways that we can learn, improve, and positively impact the way we care for children,” Woods said. “This book helped identify the importance of being knowledgeable and understanding cultural barriers and cross-cultural medicine. One takeaway and tool the author referred us to was using Arthur Kleinman’s 8 Questions to help bridge the cultural gaps of our patients.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the need for a space where APPs could connect and engage with one another, especially if they did not already work together clinically. The virtual book club met participants’ need for connection during an isolating and stressful time and provided a useful professional development opportunity for APPs.

Visit Clinical Advisor’s meetings section for more coverage of NAPNAP 2023.


Newell C, Woods C. Using a virtual book club to engage and connect APPs. Presented at: NAPNAP National Conference; March 15-18, 2023; Orlando, FL.