Guest Profile

Bonnie J. Bartos

I have 23 years of experience as a Physician Assistant (PA) in Family Practice and a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), including many patient education encounters dealing with medication management, anticoagulation therapy, respiratory care, and diabetes management. These encounters inspired me to create visual educational information on those topics. Photography, illustrations, sewing, and sculptures allowed me to develop customized educational materials for health issues. For example, food models and drawings are essential for nutrition education because people can interpret "one serving" differently. I even used sketches, photography, and food-print fabric for examples of types of food choices and meal compositions.


Due to our country's low health literacy, visual- and tactile-based presentation options for patient education are critical approaches due to our country's low health literacy level. The U.S. Department of Education sponsored the 2003 National Assessment of Health Literacy (NAAL), which revealed that only 12% of patients have enough health literacy to understand and properly follow the care instructions from healthcare providers.1 During my work in clinical care, I focused on creating picture-based patient education materials (Pictograms) for people with literacy issues, visual learners, or language barriers. In addition, I received the Allene Van Son Category III Education Award from the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists in 2008 for Pictograms featuring drawings of healthy habits in diabetes care.