The Nurses by Alexandra Robbins

T I T L E: The Nurses- A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital
A U T H O R: Alexandra Robbins
P U B L I S H E R: The Workman Publishing Company
P U B L I S H--D A T E: May 5, 2015
I S B N: 9780761171713
Non Fiction (Adult)

Nursing is more than a career; it is a calling, and one of the most important, fascinating, and dangerous professions in the world. As the frontline responders battling traumas, illnesses, and aggression from surprising sources, nurses are remarkable. Yet contemporary literature largely neglects them. In THE NURSES, New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Alexandra Robbins peers behind the staff-only door to write a lively, fast-paced story and a riveting work of investigative journalism. Robbins followed real-life nurses in four hospitals and interviewed hundreds of others in a captivating book filled with joy and violence, miracles and heartbreak, dark humor and narrow victories, gripping drama and unsung heroism. Alexandra Robbins creates sympathetic, engaging characters while diving deep into their world of controlled chaos—the hazing (“nurses eat their young”); sex (not exactly like on TV, but it happens more often than you think); painkiller addiction (disproportionately a problem among the best and brightest); and bullying (by doctors, patients, and others). The result is a page-turner possessing all the twists and turns of a brilliantly told narrative—and a shocking, unvarnished examination of our healthcare system.

     When I read the blurb I couldn’t wait to read this book. You see, besides being an avid reader, as well as a reviewer, I am also a Registered Nurse. While this book does bring up some very important issues that all nurses deal with on a day to day basis, I was just a bit disappointed. The main focus of this book seems to be ER nurses. There are so many other specialties in the nursing field, it was a shame to see that ER nurses got the spotlight so to speak. Although, I am currently a floor nurse, I have been an RN for quite a long time. I have worked in several different areas during my long career such as the ICU, Interventional Radiology, Cardiac Cath Lab, patient teaching in a wellness program and finally working on a telemetry floor that deals with cardiac patients and stroke patients. So, I wish that the author would have included ICU and floor nurses among those that she wrote about.     She followed four nurses and it would have been so much better if she would have written about some of the issues that nurses in those areas deal with as well. While ER nursing is definitely a specialty that requires a certain set of skills so do the other areas. If you put an ER nurse in the unit or the floor, she would be like a fish out of water. And while they see patients for a few hours and do get the abuse, the ICU and floor nurses deal with those issues and difficult patients as well as difficult family members for days. That she included a quote from an ER nurse that stated that ER nurses "are the rock stars", was disheartening. We are ALL ROCK STARS.
     Also, it seemed to appear that there is a lot of drug abuse amongst nurses. It is a problem for sure, however, it is not as widespread as I felt this book made it seem. In fact, there are policies and procedures that make it very difficult to steal drugs. When I first became an RN that wasn't the case, but nowadays it is so much harder to take narcotics and get away with it.
     However, in general, this book is well written and it does bring to light some of the problems we as nurses face continually. Staffing, stress, patient satisfaction surveys, both physical and verbal abuse from patients as well as family members just to name a few. So, even though I wish there would have been more focus on other areas and not mainly the ER, it is a book that I hope everyone reads. I will definitely recommend this book to my co-workers and actually already have. I will also recommend lay people to read it as well. I think it is an important book and does bring up some pertinent issues that need to be addressed in order to get our healthcare system headed in the correct direction.
     The title for me was misleading and perhaps should have made it clearer that it was mainly about the ER nurses. However, since this book did include topics that are definitely problems in all areas of the nursing world, I am giving it four stars.