Nurses work hard to bring great care to their patients with efficiency and compassion, and few professionals are as hard-working. The best books for nurses mix empathy for and understanding of the profession with insight into how nurses can continue to provide the best care possible. The four books listed below make great gifts for people to give to nurses or for nurses to give to themselves. Best of all, each is available on Kindle, which means that nurses can avoid lugging books around and keep all four stored in the slim electronic device they can take with them to work. Each of these books is perfect for a quick burst of inspiration during a busy shift or at the end of a shift so busy there may have been no time for a reading break!
1. Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not, by Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale is a familiar name even to those who aren’t nurses. This book, more than 150 years old, will demonstrate in part why we remember Nightingale to this day. Contemporary nurses are often surprised to discover how relevant and practical Nightingale’s observations are even for 21st century readers. The book also provides an interesting historical perspective and some insight into certain practices that remain part of nursing today. This classic by the woman who founded the nursing profession as we understand it today should find a place in the library of every nurse.
2. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
This book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and though it has been less than two decades since its release, it’s already a classic. It’s a must-read for nurses and, indeed, all medical professionals because it depicts the tragic results of a cross-cultural clash of values, Western medicine versus traditional Hmong ideas about epilepsy and illness. Fadiman describes the position of both the Western professionals and the Hmong family with fairness and compassion, and the popularity of this book among medical professionals today is a testament to her skill in handling this difficult material.
3. Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Seasoned Professional, by Donna Cardillo, R.N.
Readers shouldn’t be misled by the title; this is a terrific read for new nurses and longtime professionals as well. The world of nursing can seem particularly overwhelming in the beginning, though, and Cardillo’s reassuring advice drawn from real-life stories can help to make those hurdles seem much more manageable for new hires. In the revised second edition, Cardillo also includes extensive information on job searching and help for those entering nursing as a second career.
4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Bauby was a gregarious 43-year-old and the editor of the French edition of “Elle” magazine when he suffered a stroke and woke up with “locked-in syndrome,” able to understand what was going on around him but unable to speak or move. Eventually, he painstakingly composed this memoir, choosing letters of the alphabet by blinking his left eye. Bauby’s descriptions of the range of care he received, from compassionate to perfunctory, is particularly valuable for nurses who may find themselves tending to patients in similar states. Like the Fadiman book, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is considered essential reading in educating medical professionals about the experiences of those in their care.
Joyce Barker is a pediatric ICU nurse and guest author at Accelerated BSN Degree Programs, a site with guides and resources to assist potential students in evaluating top-rated accelerated BSN degree programs online.