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Bookcase: Reflecting, Predicting

Tuesday September 30, 2008
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Reaching Past the Wire: A Nurse at Abu Ghraib by Lt. Col. Deanna Germain, USAR (Ret.) with Connie Lounsbury

This isn’t another chronicle about war or the military — it’s a book about place, people, and Germain’s mission in Iraq. For four months, Germain, a 53-year-old grandmother, nurse practitioner, and Army reservist from Minnesota, was stationed at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison. In her new book, Germain, with the assistance of freelance writer Lounsbury, chronicles her experiences tending to the wounds of Iraqi prisoners.

Reaching Past the Wire is a clear-eyed account of life as a nursing supervisor behind the gates at Abu Ghraib, a story about wartime in Iraq, with all its uncertainty, turmoil, and stress. Despite temperatures up to 120 degrees, frequent mortar attacks, medical supply shortages, substandard facilities, and a constant reminder that all detainees were considered dangerous, Germain served the medical needs of Iraqi prisoners with respect, professionalism, and sometimes humor — to the best of her ability.

The author’s story not only brings home the reality of war, but the aftereffects. “Amazingly, I felt unsafe in my safe, quiet suburb,” she writes. “I didn’t have my weapon. I didn’t have my gear, and no one was guarding the bridges when we drove.” The result of her experiences is a book that puts a human face on war, showing how it affects us all, no matter what side we are on.

Borealis Books
$24.95 (hardcover)
Proceeds from her book benefit the Fisher House Foundation

The Future of the Nursing Workforce in the United States: Data, Trends and Implications by Peter I. Buerhaus, RN, PhD, FAAN, Douglas O. Staiger, PhD, and David I. Auerbach, PhD

The Future of the Nursing Workforce isn’t just about future projections of a massive shortage of RNs. The book also urges us to act on the knowledge that RNs have a significant effect on the quality and safety of patient care and ensure access to care, and that we might have to intervene to improve the performance of both the nurse labor and education markets.

In plain language, the authors provide a timely, comprehensive, and integrated body of data supported by lively discussions of the forces that shape the nursing profession in the U.S. The book is divided into sections: an overview of the healthcare system, factors that influence the supply of RNs, trends in utilization, and shortages of hospital RNs and their impact on quality of care.

This is a “must read” for nursing students, nurses in clinical practice, managers, healthcare policymakers, and leaders in national and state nursing associations. It’s a fascinating account of how the interplay of forces — such as social movements, generational trends, and economic incentives — are aligning to create the largest RN shortage we’ve ever seen beginning in the next decade.

Jones and Bartlett Publishers
$59.95 (paperback)

Terry Ratner, RN, MFA, is a freelance writer. E-mail Bookcase@nurseweek.com.