4 out of 4 stars
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A Nurse's Life: Memoirs of My Path Through Over 60 Years of Nursing and Medical Progress follows the auto-biographical nursing career of author Mary Ellen Huckestein. Her story begins back in the 1950s, when there were very few career options for the brave women who chose to work outside of the home. Following in the footsteps of her older sister, she began her professional journey by joining the Future Nurses Club in high school and later becoming a Candy Striper. Soon to follow were the steps needed began her path through nursing school, on to being a registered nurse, a head nurse, and eventually a nurse practitioner.
Chances are, we’ve all encountered a nurse at some point during our lives. My personal experience in a hospital over a 2-week-long period left me with nothing but appreciation for the nurses who have ridiculously long shifts and way too many responsibilities. Mary Ellen Huckestein gives us a run-down of what it takes to make it into that position, though times have definitely changed over the past 60 years or so. Gone are the traditional starched white dresses and caps, replaced with more practical scrubs. Paper charts with handwritten medical documents have been replaced by computerized documentation and scan-able bracelets. It was eye-opening when reading this book to realize all of the advances in the medical field that have taken place within just the past few decades. Getting to read about it from someone who experienced it as part of her career was quite pleasurable as well.
As a reader with limited knowledge of the medical field, I can assure you that this book is still easy to follow. Huckestein gives excellent background information or definitions of any uncommon medical terms used within the text so that even those of us without the experience can follow along. If I have any criticisms about the book, it’s that she probably makes it too easy to read. I think someone more experienced in nursing or medicine would find it a bit boring to read through explanations of conditions or procedures that, to them, are probably basic knowledge.
Nursing is met with more challenges than what comes from just the patients, and we don’t often think about the politics involved behind the scenes within the nursing profession. Huckestein also gives us a view into what kind of processes she had to go through in order to move up into higher positions and get better working hours. There are also legal matters to consider – proper documentation is just as important as the care for the patient, as she learned the hard way.
Overall, I thought this was a great book, and I am pleased to give it 4 out of 4 stars. I feel like my review doesn’t do it justice. It seems like it would be a difficult book to read, but that’s far from what I experienced. It’s well-written and easy to read. Huckestein concludes her book with advice for other nurses, but I think her target audience is so much bigger than than those within the nursing field. We can all appreciate how much time and effort these nurses put into their careers of caring for the sick or injured.
A Nurses's Life
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