Earlier this month I wrote about coming to the end of my nursing career; a few weeks later, I posted about how my work as a writer has a healing component. This month’s Afterthought* links these two previous blogs with thoughts about two books about nurses.
The Nurses, by Alexandra Robbins, offers an in-depth investigation of the working (and personal) lives of emergency room (ER) nurses. Robbins uses her investigative reporting skills to write about hospital practices, health care policy, and research about the profession of nursing and hospital care. She intersperses real-life stories of four nurses working in different hospitals in an unnamed region of the U.S.
Some of the ER nurses’ stories reminded me of my intensive care experiences—the practical jokes to ease tension, arrogant doctors, and death. While The Nurses doesn’t focus on public health, where I practiced for most of my career, some of the hospital nurses’ frustrations about the influence of the bottom line on nursing care mirror mine. Despite the different settings, I resonated with the ER nurses’ expression of what brought them the most satisfaction in their work: caring for others, easing pain, and the intimacy with caregiving.
Next on my reading list is I Wasn’t Strong When I Started Out – True Stories of Becoming a Nurse. This anthology, published by Creative Nonfiction Magazine, includes voices from many nurses. Editor Lee Gutkind says, “What connects these stories is the passion and strength of the writers, who struggle against burnout and bureaucracy to serve their patients with skill, empathy, and strength.”
I expect I’ll find some kindred spirits there, too.