“Compelling and compassionate human drama. If you want to understand how modern medicine ticks, fasten your seat belt and spend a day in the hospital with Theresa Brown on The Shift.” —Danielle Ofri, MD, author of What Doctors Feel
In a book as eye-opening as it is riveting, practicing nurse and regular contributor to the New York Times Theresa Brown invites us to experience not just a day in the life of a nurse but all the life that happens in just one day on a busy teaching hospital’s cancer ward. In the span of twelve hours, lives can be lost, life-altering treatment decisions made, and dreams fulfilled or irrevocably stolen. Every day, Theresa Brown holds these lives in her hands. On this day, there are four.
Unfolding in real time under the watchful eyes of Theresa Brown--a dedicated nurse and an insightful chronicler of events--we are given an unprecedented view into the individual struggles as well as the larger truths about medicine in this country. By shift’s end, we have witnessed something profound about hope and humanity.
“This meticulous, absorbing shift-in-the-life account of one nurse’s day on a cancer ward stands out for its honesty, clarity, and heart. Brown . . . juggles the fears, hopes, and realities of a 12-hour shift in a typical urban hospital with remarkable insight and unflagging care. Her memoir is a must-read for nurses or anyone close to one.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An empathetic and absorbing narrative as riveting as a TV drama.” —Kirkus Reviews
“I am filled with awe and gratitude for the work that the nurses like Theresa Brown do every day. She captures perfectly their central role in any patient’s life!” —Susan M. Love, MD, chief visionary officer, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, and author of Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book
Books about nurses abound, but this meticulous, absorbing shift-in-the-life account of one nurse's day on a cancer ward stands out for its honesty, clarity, and heart. Brown, a former Tufts University English teacher who later became a nurse, juggles the fears, hopes, and realities of a 12-hour shift in a typical urban hospital with remarkable insight and unflagging care. "To be in the eternal present of illness and unease, never knowing the future," a weary Brown writes at the end of her long day, "it's where my patients live so I, ever hopeful, live there with them." Brown's shift on one cold November day is focused on four patients. Dorothy, whose leukemia is in remission, is waiting to go home. Sheila's excruciating abdominal pain turns into a life-threatening surgical emergency. Richard will get a drug that will help his body kill its cancer cells unless the drug kills him first. Candace, enduring a long hospital stay for an intravenous infusion of her own cancer-free cells (an autologous transplant), says it "feels like an emotional chess game." Brown notes that "an oncology nurse's favorite words to a patient are I hope I never see you here again.'" Her memoir is a must-read for nurses or anyone close to one.