The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital

Nursing Book Club

The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital

By Alexandra Robbins (Workman Publishing, 2015)
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Reviewed By Christine Contillo, RN, BSN

There are as many different kinds of nurses as there are types of health problems, and as many styles of nursing as there are personalities. In her new book, The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital, writer Alexandra Robbins explores these different types in ways that validate much of what I’ve learned and observed during my long career.

Robbins follows several nurses over the course of a year and finds that some are kind, some are bold, some are bullies and some cave under aggression. None of this is a surprise; we all know that nurses are human. They make mistakes, they cry, they volunteer, they sleep with doctors, they suffer from addictions and they don’t have enough free time to take care of themselves. Likewise, there are good and bad hospitals, managers and leaders. None of this is a surprise to any working nurse or even to people who have watched medical television shows featuring a nurse character (and for some reason, there aren’t nearly as many as those that feature physicians or even EMTs). However, I would recommend The Nurses to anyone who wants to understand what nurses really do.

Robbins is a bestselling author who has previously won an award for public interest magazine journalism. She describes in great detail and with great empathy how a job that is so demanding and unforgiving can also be so rewarding — and why a nurse may not recommend nursing school to anyone she knows and at the same time cherish her work and nearly every patient she’s ever had.

Through Robbins’s writing, you’ll better understand why you can sympathize with that one girl in your nursing class who gave up hospital work as soon as her first patient died, and yet find yourself still smiling 30 years later, staying late and thanking God that you’re able to do the job you do. Your friends and family members who read this book will probably look at you through a different lens afterwards.

The 10th chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Entitled, “What Can You Do: Advice and Inspiration for the Public, Patients, Families, Nurses, Aspiring Nurses, Managers and Others,” it presents an assortment of concrete, well-thought-out suggestions, beginning with a simple solution to many of the issues raised in the book: “Treasure nurses. Hire more.”

That’s a conclusion all of us in the profession can embrace. The data is in; having more nurses means fewer complications, improved mortality rates, fewer falls, shorter stays and greater patient satisfaction. If we want American healthcare to improve, Robbins's advice should become our mantra: Treasure nurses. Hire more.  

Christine Contillo, RN, BSN, is a public health nurse who suggests joining a book club as a reason to put down trashy magazines and look smart on the subway.

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The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital

Chapter Titles

1.    What It’s Really Like to Be a Nurse: The Joy and Heartbreak of the “Secret Club”
2.    Crossing Doctor-Nurse Lines: How the Sexy-Nurse Stereotype Affects Relationships with Doctors and Patients
3.    Who Protects the Nurses? Taking Care of People Who Punch You in the Face
4.    When Nurses Bully Nurses: Hierarchies, Hazing and Why They Eat Their Young
5.    Burnt to a Crisp: How Nurses Cope — and Why Some Crack
6.    The Stepford Nurse: How Hospitals Game the System for Patient “Satisfaction”
7.    The Code of Silence: Painkillers, Gossip and Other Temptations
8.    Don’t Get Sick in July: Nurses’ Secrets — What Patients Need to Know About Their Hospitals and Their Health
9.    What Makes a Hero: Why Nurses Do What They Do
10.    What You Can Do: Advice and Inspiration for the Public, Patients, Families, Nurses, Aspiring Nurses, Managers and Others.

 

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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