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Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between 1st Edition
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“A beautifully written account of a nurse’s first year on the wards, a medical memoir that combines lyricism and compassion with searing honesty and well-timed laugh-out-loud wit...I loved this book.” (Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam )
“Brown shows us what it means to be a nurse and helps us understand that nurses need as much intensive care as their patients. Sometimes more!” (Suzanne Gordon, author of Nursing Against the Odds )
“Critical Care is a gift from an English-teacher-turned-nurse who writes from a deeply human context about her first year in a hospital oncology ward...A book of stirring stories about how we live, care for the sick and die.” (Richard M. Cohen, author of Blindsided and Strong at the Broken Places )
“A must read for anyone who wants to understand healthcare. This extraordinary book will open your eyes to the reality of nursing. If you or your loved one ends up in the hospital, you’ll wish you had someone like Nurse Brown at your side.” (Elizabeth Cohen, MPH, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent )
“Theresa Brown’s arresting account of life on the wards offers palpable testimony that nurses are first responders and primary healers in our times of crises.” (Mehmet Oz, MD, author of YOU: The Owner's Manual health series )
From the Back Cover
"Doctors heal, or try to, but as nurses we step into the breach, figure out what needs to be done for any given patient today, on this shift, and then, with love and exasperation, do it as best as we can."—from Critical Care
"At my job, people die," writes Theresa Brown, capturing both the burden and the singular importance of her profession. Brown, a former English professor at Tufts University, chronicles here her first year as an R.N. in medical oncology. As she does so, Brown illuminates the unique role of nurses in health care, giving us a deeply moving portrait of the day-to-day work nurses do: caring for the person who is ill, not just the illness itself.
Critical Care takes us with Brown as she struggles to tend to her patients' needs, both physical (the rigors of chemotherapy) and emotional (their late-night fears). Along the way, we see the work nurses do to fight for their patients' dignity, in spite of punishing treatments and an often uncaring hospital bureaucracy. We also see how a twelve-hour day of caring for the seriously ill gives Brown herself a deeper appreciation of what it means to be alive. Ultimately, this is a book about embracing life, whether in times of sickness or health.
As she takes us into the place where patients and nurses meet, Brown shows us the power of human connection in the face of mortality. She does so with a keen sense of humor and remarkable powers of observation, making Critical Care a powerful contribution to the literature of medicine.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Brown is extremely enthusiastic about her new job, and she is proud of what she does. Perhaps a little too proud. Her descriptions of grateful patients and her own tenacious, mongoose-like determination to do absolutely anything for them may give more modest readers a twinge of displaced embarrassment. Throughout the book she shares a number of patient stories with accompanying philosophizing. The stories of suffering oncology patients are inherently touching; her philosophy is of the Chicken Soup for the Soul variety, certainly deeply felt but nothing out of the common way.
The book, despite being written by a medical professional, is sprinkled with inaccurate statements and downright false medical information. According to Brown, cholera causes lethal dehydration that "only IV fluids can control". In reality, literally millions of lives have been saved with oral rehydration therapy as a treatment for cholera. She says, with "100 percent certainty", that no doctor in the United States ever collects feces for occult blood sampling. This actually happens quite regularly during rectal exams in family practice, and in many other circumstances. These may seem like minor quibbles but one does not like to see this type of factual error, especially as Brown heavily emphasizes the importance of patient education.Read more ›
Stepping into this void is nurse-author Theresa Brown in Critical Care who documents her first year as a R.N. in the oncology ward of a large teaching hospital. Brown, a former Tufts University English professor, is better equipped than most to share the real day to day lives of modern nurses. Brown explains her mid-life career change from the ivy walls of academia to the stressed halls of the nursing floor as a choice for a more chaotic, but meaningful professional life.
Critical Care is a beautifully written insider's account of what really happens at a present-day hospital. And the truth is somewhere between the gloried angels of Marcus Welby and the pill-popping antics of Nurse Jackie. Some nurses pull rank and wield authority like a weapon. Some nurses help their colleagues and bond over cups of coffee. Some physicians expect to be treated like demi-gods. Some physicians treat the nurses and their patients with respect. Some patients and their families harangue their caregivers. Some patients praise their nurses as "angels." Every story is, however, compelling.
As Brown confesses:
Anyone hearing a true nursing story will not want to believe it. The level of vulnerability, dependence, and fear experienced by patients in the hospital remains far outside the realm of normal, everyday life, and none of us want to imagine ourselves in that position.Read more ›
Many books have been written by doctors and nurses about why they chose their profession, what their training was like, the memorable patients whom they met, and the ways in which medicine changed them. This work covers the same territory. Brown explains that having children changed her outlook on life. She wanted to do a job that combined "technical skill and knowledge with love." So Brown gave up summers off for the "messy and stressful" work of a floor nurse specializing in medical oncology.
The author invites us along on a typical work day during which she deals with anxious men and women, some of whom are in great pain. Her patients suffer from a variety of symptoms such as incontinence, nausea, bleeding, lack of mobility, and an inability to breathe properly. Brown must endure long shifts during which tremendous demands are made on her time. She is expected to handle complicated orders, correctly dispense a variety of medications (including chemo), interact with colleagues effectively, record meticulous notes, and communicate with her patients' relatives. Inevitably, some individuals in her care do not make it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Initially read this as a med surg nurse but recently re-read as ICU nurse and loved it even more. What a great read!Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
As a nursing student this book made me open my eyes to what real nursing is. I absolutely loved the in sight and wisdom in every word!Published 1 month ago by tanya galvez
LOVE LOVE LOVED this book. An amazingly written book, and you really get a sense of a nurse's perspective. I can't wait until Theresa Brown finishes her next one!Published 2 months ago by Rebecca Jones
A short and sweet medical memoir of a PhD English Professor turned Oncology nurse. Very well written with unique anecdotes about working with patients, family and physicians. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nancy A
Be ready to cry and really grasp a better understanding
of the important inner strength and almost suffering it takes to care for patients. Loved it.
I enjoyed this book very much. I had many times thought myself of going back to school to become a nurse and so I enjoyed reading about Theresa Brown who did that very thing, and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nancy K. Jones
I recommend this for every student nurse. as a retired ER and ICU nurse, her incites are right onPublished 4 months ago by myra lilly-gillespie
I admire Theresa Brown to no end but I wouldn't do her job for a million dollars!Published 5 months ago by Wanda Siller
Easy to read, especially for being an international student!
True interesting stories