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Beyond Medicine – Hospital Foundation funds child literacy intervention for local medical practice

June 25, 2020

Books during visits open conversation with parents and families about early brain development, relationships, and resiliency.  Recognizing the impact of child literacy programs during his career, Dr. Joshua Ferrell, MD, Associate Program Director for Family Medicine Residency, initiated the intervention at Sampson Medical Group. “This intervention allows our providers to engage with children and parents during examination visits by modeling reading.  It also helps build parental skills to continue reading with children between wellness examinations, creating a prescription for language development,” explained Dr. Ferrell.

The Reach Out & Read® intervention goes beyond medicine by supporting bonding, early brain development, and a love of learning.  According to Reach Out & Read®, research shows literacy is a critical skill and early childhood is the critical age for equipping children for a lifetime of success.  The intervention supports parents and families from the beginning by introducing books at birth. 

Reach Out & Read® trains and supports medical providers to incorporate books during office visits in a way that engages children and families in learning.  In the exam room, doctors, nurses, and other clinicians trained by Reach Out & Read® encourage parents to read aloud to their young children and offer age-appropriate tips to make it meaningful.  At each well-child visit, children ages birth through 5 years receive a new book appropriate for their developmental stage that they can take home and keep. This helps families build their home library and encourages reading at home.

The goal is to make reading part of daily routines so that children have a healthy foundation.  “Books prescribed during Reach Out and Read® visits are tools for families and medical providers.  Just as the stethoscope is an instrument used to listen to a child’s heartbeat, a book is a valuable tool for primary care providers to evaluate cognitive, motor, social, and emotional development,” said Callee Boulware, Regional Director, Reach Out & Read®.  The intervention uses a two-generation approach, building skills for both children and parents.  Reading with children helps develop strong parent-child bonds, and it creates an opportunity for families to understand children’s developmental milestones.  

Sampson Medical Group of Clinton is the first and only medical home in Sampson County that has adopted the Reach Out & Read® intervention, a step Dr. Ferrell believes will significantly impact childhood literacy in our community and improve readiness for school.  “Our pediatric patients and their parents have truly enjoyed these visits as they’ve had the opportunity to connect with their physician and witness how important time spent reading is for the attachment and bonding between parent and child,” said Dr. Ferrell.

The intervention also brings value to the hospital’s family medicine residency.  “The goal of the family medicine residency program is to train the next generation of family physicians to positively impact the communities they serve through health education and family advocacy,” explained Dr. Ferrell. 

“We are very proud to offer this program to our patients and their families as part of our family-centered care model, and we’re excited to witness the impact this program will have upon family health in our community.”

The introduction of the program has been a team effort between Sampson Medical Group of Clinton, Sampson Regional Medical Center, and Reach Out & Read® Carolinas.  The program is proudly funded by the Sampson Regional Medical Center Foundation through generous a grant by the Anonymous Trust. 

About Sampson Medical Group of Clinton
Sampson Medical Group of Clinton provides primary care for all ages, including routine check-ups, physicals, immunizations, chronic disease screenings and management, and acute medical care. Other services include specialty care for women, including OB-GYN care, ultrasounds, infertility treatment, treatment of osteoporosis, high-risk obstetrics, and minimally invasive surgeries.  The clinic is staffed by faculty physicians and serves as an academic training site for Sampson Regional Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency program. For more information, visit     

About Reach Out and Read® Carolinas
Reach Out and Read Carolinas is the regional coalition supporting over 400 clinical programs across North and South Carolina.  The medically based literacy intervention spread from its foundation in Boston in 1989 and was replicated in communities across the country. Our mission in the Carolinas is to provide a medically-based literacy intervention for all children birth to 5 years of age, beginning with families living in poverty. The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the program has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention. For more information, please visit Find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @rorcarolinas.