The Arka Tech

One shift, 12 hours, the life of a nurse

Nurses. I would say that we have all, at some point in our lives, been around a nurse, have known a nurse or have been treated by a nurse. Nurses are more than probably the backbone of the American medical system, and Theresa Brown shows this so very clearly in her book, “The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives.”

I will readily admit it: I picked up this book because I have become slightly obsessed with “ER.” You probably know the show as the ground-breaking television series that pretty much all other doctor shows are based on (Yes, that includes “Grey’s Anatomy”). I am still enchanted by the life of Dr. John Carter and his relationships. I was hungry for a book about a hospital, and this one was recommended on Amazon.

Brown received her PhD in English before undergoing a career change and becoming a nurse in a teaching hospital where she works in the Oncology/Hematology department as a registered nurse (oncology refers to cancer, and hematology refers to blood diseases).
College professor to nurse is a jarring change, and it’s something that Brown discusses throughout her book.

Her book fascinated me. As you’re reading, you can clearly see that she uses literary ideas to give the reader some level of knowledge about her day-to-day life and to perfectly shape her reality, which is often not a nice place.

Brown’s book explores just one shift. Twelve hours. In that time, Brown deals with a patient on the brink of death, a patient whom everyone loves and a patient whom everyone really hates.

On top of caring for patients, she has to navigate doctor-nurse relations, nurse-patient relations and, because this is a teaching hospital, nurse-intern relations, and she conquers all of this with the infallible enthusiasm of any great nurse.

I would encourage you to read this book. It will make you think, it will make you appreciate nurses more and it will force you to realize just how short of a time span twelve hours is, especially if you’re juggling other people’s lives.