Recommended reads for nurses
There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book. Reading can transport us to another world, providing an escape from life’s everyday stresses. Research has also found that reading can improve sleep, enhance social skills, and boost intelligence. So, whether you’re on your break, winding down after a long shift or relaxing on holiday by the pool, here are some of our recommended reads for nurses:
The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson
Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion, and kindness. Moving through her twenty-year career, Christie recounts some of her most intense and deeply moving experiences; from nursing a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, to the pain and privilege of washing the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships… welcome to the life of a junior doctor. Hilarious, horrifying and heart-breaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know (and more than a few things you didn’t), about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.
The Key by Kathryn Hughes
1956 – It’s Ellen Crosby’s first day at work as a student nurse at Ambergate Asylum. When she meets a young girl committed by her father, and a pioneering physician keen to try out the various ‘cures’ available for mental illness. Little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is going to change their lives for ever…
2006 – Sarah is drawn to the abandoned Ambergate Asylum and whilst exploring the old corridors she discovers a suitcase in an attic belonging to a female patient who was admitted fifty years earlier. The shocking contents of the suitcase lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy, lost love and an old wrong that only Sarah may have the power to put right.
Confessions of a Male Nurse by Michael Alexander
From stampeding nudes to inebriated teenagers, young nurse Michael Alexander never really knew what he was getting himself into. But now, sixteen years since he was first launched into his nursing career (as the only man in a gynaecology ward), he’s pretty much dealt with everything. Body parts that come off in his hands; teenagers with phantom pregnancies; doctors unable to tell the difference between their left and right; violent drunks; singing relatives; sexism… and a whole lot of nudity.
Tales of a Midwife by Maria Anderson
Maria Anderson trained as an NHS nurse and went on to become a midwife, a job she has adored for over twenty years.
After fainting whilst attending her first three births, Maria went from nervous trainee to assured midwife and in her brilliant memoir she recounts the highs and lows of life inside the maternity unit. From frantic fathers and breaking her hand during a traumatic home birth, to witnessing the delivery of quads and the ultimate devastation of assisting the delivery of a stillborn baby, Maria has had an extraordinary career.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
When a new born baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change their lives, in ways both expected and not. Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.
Being Mortal by Atrul Gawande
Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should.
Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients’ anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them.
Nurses Never Run: A Student Nurse in Cambridge 1967-1970 by Eileen Gershon
Sharing her letters written at the time, Nurse Walker invites us to experience her training as a student nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and the fun she had living in Cambridge. Meet her friends, face her fears and heartbreak, her joys and frustrations, and learn about the patients she will never forget.
This honest and candid autobiography brings the caring vocation of nursing in the 1960s vividly back to life.
In Shock by Randa Awdish
At seven months pregnant, intensive care doctor Rana Awdish suffered a catastrophic medical event, haemorrhaging nearly all of her blood volume and losing her unborn first child. She spent months fighting for her life in her own hospital, enduring a series of organ failures and multiple major surgeries.
Every step of the way, Awdish was faced with something even more unexpected and shocking than her battle to survive: her fellow doctors’ inability to see and acknowledge the pain of loss and human suffering, the result of a self-protective barrier hard-wired in medical training.
In Shock is Rana Awdish’s searing account of her extraordinary journey from doctor to patient, during which she sees for the first time the dysfunction of her profession’s disconnection from patients and the flaws in her own past practice as a doctor. Shatteringly personal yet wholly universal, it is both a brave roadmap for anyone navigating illness and a call to arms for doctors to see each patient not as a diagnosis, but as a human being.
Have you read anything recently? We’d love to see your recommendations in the comments section below.
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