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Book club: your reviews

All posts from: May 2012

Health Promotion and Public Health for Nursing Students

30 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Health Promotion and Public Health for Nursing Students.

Authors: Daryl Evans, Dina Coutsaftiki, C Patricia Fathers

Publisher: Learning Matters Ltd

Reviewer: Louise Goodyear, access HE health student


What was it like?

Health Promotion and Public Health for Nursing Students covers all aspects of health promotion in today’s society. Each chapter encompasses the core principles of health promotion, enabling the nursing student to understand how to tackle it and also adhere to the NMC guidelines.

I found that this book is extremely comprehensive and informative, but in an easy to understand and accessible manner.

It is detailed enough to understand the principles of health promotion without being confusing. I enjoyed chapter two ‘Tackling lifestyle change’, as I find this topic interesting. This chapter explained that lifestyle change is not that easy to implement, but with the support of nurses an individual can be assisted and guided through any hard decisions they have to make.


What were the highlights? 

Each chapter has scenarios which I found great as it enabled me to have a perspective on the patient’s lifestyle choices. There are activities which are extremely useful and enjoyable as they challenge your thinking on each section.

There are also useful websites in each chapter so that you can research the topics further.

Strengths & weaknesses

This edition has numerous strengths. Its introduction draws you into the book and gives you a brief breakdown of each chapter, which enables you to source specific information before you begin each new section. I also found the glossary and the reference list to be informative.

Who should read it?

As an access HE health student I found this edition, although aimed at nursing students, beneficial for my own studies. I have covered health promotion in one of my modules and I was able to utilise the information in this book. I also will be able to take what I have learnt, into my nursing studies in 2012.

Nurse! Nurse! A student nurse’s story

28 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Nurse! Nurse! A student nurse’s story

Author: Jimmy Frazier

Publisher: Constable, 2011

Reviewer: Jenni Middleton, editor, Nursing Times, EMAP

What was it like?

I’ve read quite a few books about what life is like for a nurse, but this is one of the most funny, poignant (and from what I’ve been told by nurses and student nurses) accurate portrayals of life pre-registration.

Jimmy Frazier is a pseudonym but as the book’s omniscient central character, he is compelling, charming and empathetic. After getting into trouble as a youngster, he is volunteered to work on a ward, which he swears puts him off a healthcare profession, for life. However, a few years later, as a thirty something, he decides to change his life and go into nursing. Cue lots of unsupportive “Florence” and “Angel” gags from his mates, who look down on his “less than manly” choice of vocation. The book charts the highs and lows of studying to be a nurse with uncanny realism. The characterisation of the lecturers and mentors is brilliantly observed – the hard as nails tutor who turns out to be quite an empathetic coach when the chips are down during practical exam time; the mouthy nurse so passionate about her profession she will stand up to any doctor, and the sign-off mentor who has transformed the lives of those she has worked with. “Super Nurse “ is a joy to behold for both the author and the reader. And Frazier has cleverly interwoven characters who inspire, add comic value or a gritty injection of realism.

While the book touches on many of the issues in nursing today – the dearth of male nurses in anything other than mental health disciplines, the move to an all-graduate profession, the delicate relationship between doctors and nurses and nurse prescribing – it feels more like a novel than a factual account – thanks to the charming interjections about Jimmy’s love life and his friendships with those people on the course. As such it’s an easy read, with a lovely dose of mental images – my favourite being when he cares for a patient on a mental ward whom he tells his friends “makes Hannibal Lecter look like a vegan”.


What were the highlights? 

This is a beautifully constructed book. It works hard to portray the realism of being a nurse – from the anxieties around performing your first depot injection to the OCSE exams and the fear of your first physical assault at the hands of an angry patient. It’s never trite, never overplayed and always humorous and heartfelt.

Strengths & weaknesses

The friendships that Jimmy has forged during his time as a student nurse illustrate how difficult students from different cultures and backgrounds can find the transition to nursing. One of the biggest points that the author makes is how enormous the churn is in nursing, and through the trials of his friends, you can understand why. The ending of this book is also a surprise – and something that made me a little sad. But I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Who should read it?

This is a fantastic companion for any student nurse. There’s a great deal of wisdom from the author, which I am sure would inspire the student with the sinking heart if they’ve dealt with a difficult relative on the ward, or found it hard to find the right words to say to a patient who is struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis. It’s also a great read for lecturers and those mentoring student nurses – just to show you how students perceive you. And as everyone in nursing will have gone through some form of student experience – I can’t imagine many people who wouldn’t get something out of it. Truly the best book about nursing I’ve read so far. Bravo Jimmy Frazier.


The Cancer Survivor’s Companion – Practical ways to cope with your feelings after cancer

24 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: The Cancer Survivor’s Companion – Practical ways to cope with your feelings after cancer

Authors: Dr Frances Goodhart & Lucy Atkins

Publisher: Piatkus 2011

Reviewer: Candy Cooley, national genetics awareness campaign lead, NHS National Genetics Education and Development Centre


What was it like?

This book starts by describing what it isn’t. It isn’t a guide to dealing with the physical impact of cancer and cancer treatment. It also isn’t a book that pontificates about how fortunate the individual is to have survived their cancer, as one individual states’ at the beginning of the book “if one more person tells me how lucky I am…., I think I’m going to explode”. What this book offers is practical ways to deal with the emotions and feelings that come from having cancer and having survived cancer.


What were the highlights? 

One of the highlights within the book is the comments from patients, which bring home the realities of being told you are cured, “But worst of all I worried that it (a holiday) was almost asking for trouble to celebrate.” Dr Goodhart, a clinical psychologist, uses the concerns of her patients and the techniques they used to deal with these issues to make sense of these emotions. And while these techniques are focused on cancer survivors, many of them would be relevant for any individual with worries, fatigue, anger, depression and low mood.

Strengths & weaknesses

Each chapter focuses on an area of concern and uses the theories around why these emotions might occur, interspersed with personal experiences. This makes the book extremely readable and great for dipping into for particular issues. The chapters also include case studies, tips, exercises and examples, with a final section with advice for friends, families and carers. The exercises will be helpful for individuals to try out for themselves or for carers to work through with the patient. There are lots of really practical comments and suggestions thatclearly reflect the experiences of cancer survivors. I really didn’t feel there were any weaknesses.It was a thoroughly readable and useful book.

Who should read it?

While this book, by the title, is directed at cancer survivors, it is in fact a bookthat is insightful for health professionals, both in understanding what may be happening “when the clinic door closes” but also to enable the health professional to offer some practical suggestions and advice.

Heal your brain: how the new neuropsychiatry can help you go from better to well

23 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Heal your brain: how the new neuropsychiatry can help you go from better to well

Author: David J Hellerstein

Publisher: The John Hopkins University Press, 2011

Reviewer: Carol Cooper, senior lecturer in mental health nursing, Sheffield Hallam University


What was it like?

Dr Hellerstein is a psychiatrist working in New York, USA. In this book, which seems to be a self-help book for people suffering from depression and/or anxiety disorders, he outlines what he terms as the “new neuropsychiatry”.

The book comprises two parts, firstly “Getting better” and secondly “Getting (and Staying) Well”. It commences with tips on how to find a suitable psychiatrist, which is not really an issue for most people in this country, however may be helpful for those seeking private treatment.  Following this there are seven chapters in which Dr Hellerstein shares the stories of many of his clients from diagnosis through treatment and response to remission and finally recovery.


Although he details many forms of treatment available including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy and dialectical behavioural therapy, these are all related to improving malfunctions of the brain. He cites many studies that are mainly on animals, which he feels prove these links. Therefore this new neuropsychiatry seems to be outlining firstly how clients should be treated holistically using medications and therapy, which seems not to be usual practice in the USA. Secondly it is based on the premise that depression and anxiety are manifestations of brain malfunction and as such people need help to heal this neurobiological problem. He argues that this can be healed equally well by medication, therapy or indeed exercise and cites research, which relate to all of these issues.

What were the highlights? 

The numerous stories told within this book are interesting and could be useful in inspiring a variety of people including those deemed to be ‘treatment resistant’.

Strengths & weaknesses

An interesting account of individuals’ battles with depression and anxiety, and their psychiatrist’s efforts to help them. However, it is reliant on neurological explanations and some of it does not translate well to current practice in the UK.

Who should read it?

People with depression/anxiety, doctors, nurses and therapists.




Facilitating Learning in Healthcare

22 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Facilitating Learning in Healthcare

Edited by: Sarah Carter

Publisher: Pharmaceutical Press, 2011

Reviewer:  Simon Browes, doctoral research student


 What was it like?

Facilitating learning is a core part of any healthcare practitioner’s role. Whether you are supporting undergraduates in practice, contributing to academic teaching or providing learning opportunities for colleagues, we all need skills in teaching and learning. This title provides a structured approach to each aspect of the learning process. Using examples from practice education, this book sits neatly in the space between university and the practice world. Written by experts from pharmacy education, they have endeavoured to make this a relevant text for all healthcare disciplines.

If teaching is not your main role, this book provides sufficient depth to support your development as an educator along with extensive reference lists to guide your further reading. I particularly enjoyed the chapters; how-to approach, guiding you through assessing, planning, delivering and evaluating learning activities. As lifelong learners, this publication provides insight into how we learn and can help you to identify opportunities to suit your needs and preferences.


What were the highlights? 

This is a book that fills an important space on my bookshelf and has proven to be a fantastic, concise resource for teaching and learning theory. For practitioners like me who are developing their teaching skills or undertaking teaching qualifications, this book brings together a range of literature, theories and approaches into one accessible volume.

Strengths & weaknesses

If I had to find something to improve upon, it would be the rather ordinary format and lack of colour… but that really is nit-picking. The book acknowledges that its contributors come from a pharmacy background, perhaps future editions could invite contributions from a range of health professions.

Who should read it?

This is a valuable resource for anyone who has a role in teaching and learning in healthcare, whatever their level of practice. Whether you are a staff nurse, clinical specialist, manager, researcher or clinical educator - we are all lifelong learners and should strive to be teachers.

Listening to children and young people in healthcare consultations

21 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title:Listening to children and young people in healthcare consultations

Edited by: Sarah Redsell and Adrian Hastings

Publisher:Radcliffe Publishing, 2010

Reviewer:Alison Taylor, paediatric practice development nurse, Western Sussex Hospitals Trust


What was it like?

This book explores the involvement of children and young people and their families in consultations about their health. This cornerstone of good-quality care is emphasised as a necessity rather than a luxury extra, and it is considered from many different angles, not least good communication skills.

What were the highlights? 

Contributions come from a number of academics and clinicians in several, mainly community-based, fields of children’s health, therefore this book is  well evidenced.

Strengths & weaknesses

The historical backdrop to the issues at hand is provided by an excellent discussion of children’s changing status in society and the health and social context of childhood during the last two centuries. The influence of such major figures as Bowlby and Robertson in furthering our understanding of children’s needs and the concept of family-centred care is explored, along with significant government policy relating to children.

Case studies and vignettes are used throughout the book to illustrate the sometimes subtle points being made. They are particularly effective in emphasising the important cues provided by a child’s behaviour during a consultation. How to communicate with children is a difficult thing to pin down, but a step-by-step approach and suggestions of practical techniques and questions to use when framing such conversations with children and young people are provided. However, the importance of play therapy in communication is rather underplayed. This practical guidance considers the issues from the perspective of professionals, parents and carers and the children themselves.

Young carers and children with disabilities are given specific chapters, which is useful. There is also a good section on legal issues, with clear explanations of legal principles, such as Gillick competence, which are specific to children and young people’s care.

A chapter examining the roles and responsibilities of different health, education and social care professionals in communicating with children and young people is exclusively focused on primary and community care. Although the A&E setting is given specific attention in the last chapter, it would have been good to see more reference to acute children’s care settings in general. Also lacking is examination of the issues related to transition from children’s to adult services. Considering this is such a crucial time to ensure empowerment of young people and foster good communication with them, this is rather surprising.

This book is readable and its use of text boxes, bullet points and short chapters makes it accessible and a useful resource.

Who should read it?

This book would be particularly suitable for medical staff and students, community health professionals and student nurses.

A Nurse in Time: my life as a trainee nurse in the 1930s

14 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: A Nurse in Time: my life as a trainee nurse in the 1930s

Author: Evelyn Prentis

Publisher: Ebury Press, 2011

Reviewer: Jenni Middleton, editor, Nursing Times, EMAP


What was it like?

What’s joyous about this book for any nurse who has ever shuddered to hear themselves described as “an angel” or “hero” is that the author does not refer to herself as “a natural nurse” and in fact, amusingly recounts how she was forced into the role just because her mother thought it was a good idea, never mind her lack of aptitude or interest.

Romantic notions of having been always destined to nurse are dispensed with as quickly as those of mopping fevered brows – on her first day Evelyn Prentis had to scrub bedpans, graduating to scouring U bends of toilets on day two.

The book is a lovely canter through the training of a nurse in the 1930s, with tons of nostalgia – the joy at her discovering her first electric light switches at the Nottingham Hospital where she worked, the hatred of wearing “combinations”, an unfashionable style of lingerie for the time and the importance of how to get noticed by boys and get asked out on dates – and then how to get out of – or back in – nursing quarters outside of “off duty” hours.

But it is probably her relationship with the sisters and the matron that will ring most bells with nurses whenever they trained. The fearsome sister that strips the beds in the nurses’ quarters if they are not made to her exacting standards and the matron who can make you weep with trepidation at the mention of her name.

What were the highlights? 

Despite the tangible fear of these matriarchs expressed by the author, there are episodes of humour – getting covered by all sorts in the sluice, trying to get some of the more racy nurses back in undetected by those in charge of policing the nursing quarters and making jokes at the expense of the patients.

Strengths and weaknesses: The humour of the nurses who try and avoid being at the beck and call of their patients “After meals is the only time I allow [bedpans] to be given to patients and if anyone wants one in between they must wait. I won’t have the patients pandered to on this ward,” one sister tells the author. While another trainee nurse chastises a patient for taking up too much of her time and being too annoying for trying to die during her shift because she “hadn’t got the time for that today’.

Who should read it?

Nurses who trained in the 1930s, 40s and 50s who want to relive their previous experiences, especially those who used to live in nursing quarters, and those training to be a nurse now to compare their current situation. But only if you have a sense of humour and aren’t too squeamish – there is a particularly sad bit about women who are in the Female Chronic ward (gynae) for having tried to carry out their own homemade abortions using crochet hooks – though that is brief. It’s funny and joyful, and I am sure it will make a lot of people laugh,

Clinical Responsibility

10 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Clinical Responsibility

Author: Jane Lynch

Publisher: Radcliffe Publishing, 2009

Reviewer: Adam Fitzgerald, staff nurse, Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust

What was it like?

This book aims to provide the distinction between professional accountability and the actual letter of the law. Jane Lynch has written a number of books in a series outlining various aspects of law with regard to healthcare, aiming to assist the practitioner or allied healthcare worker. Jane Lynch, by her own admission, is a lawyer specialising in medical malpractice and appears through her writing to have sought out the areas that concern practitioners whilst writing this book.


What were the highlights? 

The book is broken down into relatively easy to read chapters and is supported by a reference page at the end of each chapter to provide further information. The main bulk of information is supported by real world case studies and examples. However many of the case studies are left open ended leaving you wondering what the actual outcome for the professional was.

Strengths & weaknesses

From a nursing perspective, this book provides a useful introduction to medical law, the responsibilities expected from the courts and the conflicts between the law and the occasions where the law and the NMC Code of Conduct clash. It also provides and insights to the events that may occur when the healthcare practitioner isn’t at fault such as Coroner’s Courts where the purpose is to establish cause of death rather than allocate blame. There are even set reflective exercises in the book and discussion points, especially useful if this were to be used as a course text.

Overall the book is well written although is a little hard to initially get into, but once past the initial chapter and some of the legal terms, it becomes more familiar (aided by the glossary at the rear). However, there is one main error on P.74 where it is written student nurse where it is meant to be staff nurse. This does let the book down a little bit as it appears the author has tried to connect with healthcare staff including spending time with ECP’s as mentioned in chapter 20 and gain as much of a prospective as possible for someone with a non-medical background. Yet this edition provides a raft of useful information from an initial complaint up to the point of a civil or criminal proceeding and would be a recommended read at any level from student nurse upwards.

Who should read it?

Being a relatively newly qualified staff nurse, we are always taught about the professional code of conduct. However we spend very little time actually seeing where we stand within the eyes of the law. The publication appears to be aimed mainly at doctors, nurses and midwives focusing heavily on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and General Medical Council (GMC); on the other hand within the later chapters there is greater emphasis on the health professionals council, with regards to paramedics, radiographers, speech and language therapists and emergency care practitioners (ECP). Although the book appears to be aimed mainly at registered practitioners I believe it would be a good insight for final year students to read to gain an understanding of the implications from being a registered practitioner.

Healthcare Management, second edition

10 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Healthcare Management, second edition

Edited by: Kieran Walshe & Judith Smith

Publisher: Open University Press, 2011.

Reviewer: Paul Veitch, nurse consultant, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust

 What was it like?

This newly revised edition of a well-known text, offers a comprehensive overview of the complexities of healthcare organisation and management. It is a welcome and timely addition to the genre. The demands on healthcare systems to reform in the light of global financial recession requires those charged with that reform to consider carefully the evidence underpinning such reform, now, more than ever before. This book offers help along the way.


What were the highlights? 

There are 27 chapters divided into four parts, with some 498 pages. The book is packed with figures, tables, and summary boxes with additional websites and lists of resources. It is well referenced, with additional recommended reading lists and these features combine to make it a thoroughly modern reference book. The inclusion of self-assessment exercises will be considered a boon by students studying the topics, but also for others who simply require some assurance that we have been able to comprehend the subject area.

Strengths & weaknesses

The editors have brought together a range of highly experienced contributors and the resulting content is suitably impressive. This new edition meets its stated aim of bringing an international dimension to the likely UK readership, endearing itself to me because it is a helpful, well-integrated praxis between the academic and the operational. The inclusion of a social care perspective was welcome and those involved in the design of services will value the exposure to chapters on the built environment and on informatics.

The voice of the end user of healthcare was present but perhaps not loud enough. This is increasingly important because it remains a central test of quality. This, however, was my only criticism of a comprehensive, well-written and engaging book.

Who should read it?

Experienced managers and researchers will find this volume reliable and up to date. Aspiring managers will do worse than looking to it as a window into the wide world of resources available to them.

Significantly, all nurses would do well to recognise that healthcare management stretches further than their immediate line manager. Healthcare management encompasses a range of disciplines and makes a vital contribution to healthcare across the world. It is important for all nurses to be at ease with the majority of topics within this book as increasingly nurse’s practise in, and need to adapt to, rapidly changing environments.

The book is also available on Kindle.

Terrorism and Public Health. A balanced approach to strengthening systems and protecting people. 2nd Edition

1 May, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Terrorism and Public Health. A balanced approach to strengthening systems and protecting people. (2nd Ed.)

Edited by: Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2012

Reviewer: Martyn Tee, independent trainer for Health & Social Care



This is a readable text that approaches terrorism as a multi-faceted issue requiring a multi-disciplinary response. The roots, history and definitions (there are more than you may think) of terrorism are examined, as is the terrorist himself (he is likely to be male, well-educated, middle class and no more religious than the average population). In addition to a complete reorganisation and revision of the information contained within the first edition, this book explores emergency preparedness in depth and includes a detailed analysis of the public health issues raised by the war on terror. It is laid out in six parts, with self-explanatory titles that would allow the reader to “dip in” to chapters of particular interest, but I would argue that this is a book to read, rather than to refer to. There are critiques of responses to terrorist attacks around the world from international contributors. Although the latter sections of the book tend to focus attention on the difficulties and shortcomings of the response to terror within the United States, the pitfalls highlighted should probably serve as a warning to any country attempting to respond to a major act of terrorism.



The highlights for me were the critiques of the response to attacks outside the United States, and the examination of the role that healthcare professionals – not just those who would consider themselves public health workers – can play in the prevention and mitigation of terrorist acts.

List strengths and weaknesses:

The strengths of this book are its readability and engaging nature. While it does not make light of a serious topic, it does present the material in a well-structured and easily digestible manner. It also provides some key questions for debate, as the contributors do not shy away from criticising responses from governments and organisations involved in the response to terror. It is a pity, however, that the type-face is rather small. Some of the chapters deal in depth with US policy, which may not be of great interest to UK readers.

Potential Readers:

Anyone with an interest in the topic. However it is likely to be of most interest to those who may find themselves on the front line of planning or carrying out a response to terrorist acts.



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