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 […]

Working a Shift with Theresa Brown

bookBy Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Many of you may be familiar with Theresa Brown, nurse and author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between, as well as a blogger for the New York Times. Brown also writes a quarterly column for AJN called What I’m Reading (her latest column, which will be free until August 15, is in the July issue). Her new book, The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients Lives, will come out in September, and I was able to read a prepublication copy. (You can pre-order it.)

I don’t usually write book reviews. I think of most books like food: what one person finds delicious may be less savory to another. But I’m making an exception because this book is an accurate and well-written portrayal of nursing (at last!).

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 […]

July 20th, 2015|career, Nursing, nursing perspective|4 Comments

When a Fellow Nurse Abuses Drugs on the Job

. . . the nurse wasn’t anywhere on the floor. I started looking around, asking other nurses. My frustration grew when I realized that something about the entire floor felt wrong. The entire night shift had disappeared. My chest tightened and I started to worry about what had happened at the hospital last night.

That’s a short excerpt from the Reflections essay in the October issue of AJN, “A Good Nurse.” It’s by oncology nurse Theresa Brown, who happens to also have a new column out this week at the New York Times Opinionator blog. Never one to shy away from sensitive topics, in this essay she takes on the shock and betrayal in learning a fellow nurse has been abusing drugs on the job. Click the link above or the image on the right to read the whole short essay (click through to the PDF version for the best reading experience). We welcome your responses here, of course.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor
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September 28th, 2012|career, nursing perspective|0 Comments

If the Patient Doesn’t Understand the Treatment: New Essay by Theresa Brown

Ben’s inability to understand even the basics of his situation, combined with his lack of family support, made it seem that we were in effect imprisoning him and torturing him.

That’s an excerpt from the Reflections essay in the June issue of AJN. By Theresa Brown, a nurse who regularly writes for the New York Times “Well” blog, “Right Treatment, Right Patient?” explores the ethics and emotions involved in providing an unpleasant but potentially life-saving treatment to a patient who can’t understand what’s being done to him (click through to the PDF for the best version).

We hope you’ll read it through and let us know if you’ve ever faced a similar ethical quandary as a health care professional (or, for that matter, as a family member or patient).—JM, senior editor

June 27th, 2011|nursing perspective|0 Comments

Maybe Palliative Care SHOULD Go to the Dogs

By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN interim editor-in-chief

Last week, we took Sam, our ailing 14-year-old Labrador Retriever, on what became his last trip to the vet. Sam had been diagnosed with bone cancer in February after we noticed the right half of his head enlarging. Because of where the tumor was, it was inoperable. We felt that at his age chemotherapy wasn’t a realistic option, and we didn’t want the last few months of his life to be bad ones.

His veterinarian, who’d treated Sam since his puppy days, supported the decision, saying she would make the same choice for her dog. And so we spent the last few months adjusting doses of steroids and pain meds to enable him to live as normally as possible. For Sam, “normal” was being able to greet all comers to our door, to be the leader on his walks, to be smack in the middle of where his family was. (If people were in the basement and on the second floor, he would lie equidistant from where everyone in the house was. If we were in the same room, he sat, front legs crossed in his “elegant dog” pose, where he could see us all.)

So last month, when we saw that he would no longer get up to greet visitors or his family; was reluctant to go on walks (he did, but with a great sigh and lots of panting after even the shortest […]

September 13th, 2010|Nursing|6 Comments