A New York Times bestseller. “A funny, intimate, and often jaw-dropping account of life behind the scenes.”—People
Nurses is the compelling story of the year in the life of four nurses, and the drama, unsung heroism, and unique sisterhood of nursing—one of the world’s most important professions (nurses save lives every day), and one of the world’s most dangerous, filled with violence, trauma, and PTSD.
In following four nurses, Alexandra Robbins creates sympathetic characters while diving deep into their world of controlled chaos. It’s a world of hazing—“nurses eat their young.” Sex—not exactly like on TV, but surprising just the same. Drug abuse—disproportionately a problem among the best and the brightest, and a constant temptation. And bullying—by peers, by patients, by hospital bureaucrats, and especially by doctors, an epidemic described as lurking in the “shadowy, dark corners of our profession.”
The result is a page-turning, shocking look at our health-care system.
Journalist Robbins (Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities) trains her sights on the adrenaline-infused world of emergency nursing, offering a disturbing snapshot of the barriers imposed on healthcare providers by colleagues, myopic bosses, and a changing healthcare system. She follows four ER nurses at four hospitals where patients range from the wealthy and privileged to the down and out, aiming to represent the varied perspectives of America's 3.5 million nurses. During the book's year-long time line, Molly quits her full-time hospital job to become an agency nurse while also beginning fertility treatments; Lara battles a crumbling marriage and a history of drug abuse; Sam, a novice, grows into a confident practitioner; and unpopular Juliette, despite a lack of encouragement from fellow nurses, saves lives while advancing her career. To illustrate the realities of nursing, Robbins addresses government surveys that "steer focus away from patient health," a nursing "code of silence" that helps cover up addiction in their ranks, bullying, and the mix of factors that leads to medication errors. The "nurse confessions" section also dishes eye-opening material to the uninitiated. Robbins uses these four women's trials and triumphs to show how the nursing profession itself remains as overwhelming as a busy ER.