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Creating a Knowledge-Based Identity for Nurses

Monday September 24, 2007
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The Complexities of Care: Nursing Reconsidered Edited by Sioban Nelson, RN, PhD, and Suzanne Gordon

Like all good projects, The Complexities of Care began as a conversation that Nelson and Gordon held over several years, across many cities worldwide. A mutual compulsion bound them together in their concern for patient care, nursing work, and education, as well as for the nursing profession as a whole.

Nelson, dean of the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, and Gordon, award-winning author, lecturer, and patient advocate, begin their book with "Nursing, everyone believes, is the caring profession."

The collection of provocative essays explores critical perspectives on major issues in nursing and healthcare work. The international contributors — nurses, journalists, a philosopher, and a sociologist — delve into administrative challenges faced by knowledge-based nursing, the importance of relationships in nursing practice, moral integrity and regret in nursing, the challenge of reconciling the ideals of holistic care, and the state of nurse staffing. The authors portray nurses in a variety of settings who describe their work as caring, emotional, and compassionate, consciously avoiding any mention of scientific knowledge and skill that are essential to the job. The essays are linked by a central theme: the reputation of the nurse as an angelic caregiver trivializes the expertise and demands required for the work.

The Complexities of Care is a book about adding voice to our practice and reclaiming one's profession — and sending the right message to those who would make good nurses.

ILR Press, Cornell University Press, $18.95

In Mother Teresa's House: A Hospice Nurse in the Slums of Calcutta by Rosemary Dew, RN, MA

In Mother Teresa's House is a first-hand account of nursing at the Missionaries of Charity's House in Calcutta, India. The author takes the reader into a world of incredible sights, sounds, and smells as we experience the city of Calcutta, where 13 million people crowd on mats and sidewalks, going about their everyday business of shaving, bathing, and begging.

The book follows Dew's journey as a volunteer through the slums of Calcutta at Mother Teresa's House for Sick and Dying Destitutes. The author describes her own experiences as a hospice nurse: "The time I spent in the slums of Calcutta, in that ocean of chaos where nothing was as I expected, brought me a sense of fulfillment that I never dreamt possible."

This is a book for nurses to cherish. The author sums up her journey with "Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your families, in your workplace and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see."

BookSurge, LLC, $13.25 (paperback)

Life After Stroke: The Guide to Recovering Your Health and Preventing Another Stroke by Joel Stein, MD, Julie Silver, MD, Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD

A book about strokes might seem tiresome, but Life After Stroke has a heart and soul of its own. In this compassionate overview, three expert physicians who treat stroke patients describe how to navigate the path to recovery.

Six years ago, co-author Elizabeth Pegg Frates heard a loud thud come from a back room. Her 66-year-old father, who had gone to wash his hands before holding his new grandson, yelled out, "I can't move my foot!"

Donald Pegg had suffered a heart attack and a stroke 10 years before, but the possibility of a second stroke didn't cross his mind. Frates knew better. She was a resident at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and knew the questions to ask. "Can you move your leg?" "Where are you?" "Squeeze my hand."

Life After Stroke is an excellent tool for nurses who work with stroke patients. It's a book that not only explains the importance of understanding the differences among strokes, but also offers advice on treatments, rehabilitation, and lifestyle changes that enable patients to learn what they can do to prevent a recurring episode.

Johns Hopkins University Press, $14.00 (paperback)

Terry Ratner, RN, MFA, is a freelance writer for NurseWeek and Nursing Spectrum. E-mail Bookcase@nurseweek.com.