A Nurses’ Week Visit with Theresa Brown

Nurse and author Theresa Brown

Nurse and author Theresa Brown

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with nurse Theresa Brown (you can listen to our conversation here). Brown writes AJN’s quarterly What I’m Reading column. (This month, she writes about Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook.)

Theresa Brown also blogs for the New York Times and is the author of The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives, which I first wrote about when it was released last July. As I noted then, it’s probably the first book I’ve read that really captures certain elements of nurses’ work:

Anyone who wants to know what it’s like to be a nurse in a hospital today should read this book. Patients, families, and non-nurse colleagues tend to see nurses as ever-present yet often in the background, quietly moving from room to room, attending to patients, and distributing medications or charting at computers.

But what they don’t understand about what nurses do is what Brown so deftly describes—the cognitive multitasking and constant reordering of priorities that occur in the course of one shift as Brown manages the needs of four very different patients (she was working in a stem cell transplant unit at the time); completes admissions and discharges; and communicates with families, colleagues, and administrators.

Brown told me that The Shift is now being released in paperback. If you haven’t read it, treat yourself to a copy for Nurses’ Week. It’s worth reading. (And then pass it along to a physician or administrator.)

Editor-in-chief, AJN


  1. Muita May 15, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for posting

  2. Lois Roelofs May 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Multitasking and prioritizing. Right on!

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