When Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not was first published in 1859, it served as a harbinger of modern nursing. Through her lifetime, Nightingale penned several books detailing the basis for nursing theory, education, and practice.
Drawing inspiration from Nightingale’s work, nurses continue to craft works of nonfiction that stir emotion and stimulate ingenuity. Today, many of the bestsellers written by nurses take a comprehensive look at the profession from a modern point of view. Unlike Nightingale’s how-to of nursing, contemporary nurse authors are taking a deep dive into the emotions that come with care. Some of the newest books entertain, others inform. Many contain real-world accounts of courage, hope, and determination in nursing.
For registered nurses (RNs) who are advancing their careers to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN), the books may offer a glimpse into continuing a nursing career and the challenges ahead. Reading them may provide RNs with a new perspective on their profession.
Healthcare professionals have celebrated the following books as having insight into the nursing profession:
1. Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk
By Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH (Master of Public Health), RN, and Harry Jacob Summers
Written by the founders of The Truth About Nursing, a nonprofit aimed at increasing awareness of the role of nurses, Saving Lives works to dispel common misrepresentations of nursing in the media. The goal of the book is to “change the way people look at the essential role nurses play within the U.S. healthcare system.”
2. A Nurse’s Story
By Tilda Shalof, RN, BScN, CNCC (Certified Nurse in Critical Care–Canada)
Shalof, who worked in the intensive care unit (ICU), shared her story of working in a big-city hospital with a team of nurses who were “a bit wild: smart, funny, disrespectful of authority, but also caring and incredibly committed to their jobs.” The tome reveals behind-the-scenes work in hospital ICUs, from the drama to camaraderie.
3. I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse
By Lee Gutkind (editor)
This collection of narratives about real-life nursing experiences showcases the drama and dynamics that go into nursing. The book features stories from nurses at all stages of their careers, including a story from a maternity ward nurse who helped a couple after their baby died shortly after birth and an account from a home health nurse who was the only person at a patient’s funeral.
4. The Everything New Nurse Book, 2nd Edition: Gain confidence, manage your schedule, and be ready for anything!
By Kathy Quan, BSN, RN
Quan’s publication is a what-to-expect for new nurses, nursing students, and those considering nursing school. The book covers information such as balancing a hectic schedule, dealing with doctors, and continuing education while working. In its second edition, The Everything New Nurse Book includes tips from Quan, an RN for more than 35 years, and other nurses with a focus on getting through “those first critical months on the job–and beyond.”
5. The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital
By Alexandra Robbins
In researching for her book, Robbins followed four nurses in different hospitals for a year and interviewed hundreds of others to detail the drama, heroism, and “unique sisterhood of nursing.” Even though Robbins is not a nurse (she’s a journalist), she captured the emotional highs and lows of the nursing profession.
6. Inspiring the Inspirational: Words of Hope from Nurses to Nurses
By Sue Heacock, RN, MBA (Master of Business Administration), COHN-S (Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist)
The book takes readers on a literary journey with nurses from across the country. It includes poems and anecdotes from nurses about nursing. Many of the readings are short but packed full of meaning. One review on Amazon said the book is “the most diversified work I’ve seen. It is funny. It is serious. It is all true. You will cry with laughter and you will cry with the dedication these nurses have displayed through their own experience.”
7. The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives
By Theresa Brown, PhD, BSN, RN
Brown, an RN and a New York Times columnist, highlights a single day in a teaching hospital’s cancer ward, illustrating the challenges patients and caregivers face when making life-changing decisions and handling real-life consequences. Readers lauded the book for its realistic depiction of a day of any floor nurse in any hospital in the United States.
8. Reflections on Nursing: 80 Inspiring Stories on the Art and Science of Nursing
By American Journal of Nursing
This compilation of first-person narratives details the personal and professional successes and struggles of nurses in all stages of their career. The book includes an account from a nurse who found her best friend, a fellow nurse, stealing drugsand an anecdote from a nurse who struggled to give adequate care to seven patients simultaneously. Reviewers called the book a must-read because it showcases career- and life-changing moments many nurses must handle.
About Duquesne University’s Online RN-BSN Degree Program
Duquesne University’s RN to BSN program allows nurses to advance their careers without disrupting other responsibilities. The fully accredited online program focuses on valuable skills, such as evidence-based nursing and critical thinking.
Duquesne University’s School of Nursing is a nationally recognized pioneer in nursing education, teaching RNs about advanced nursing techniques, community health nursing, and other vital healthcare topics. Learn more about Duquesne University’s online RN to BSN program.