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Book club: your reviews

Night Shift Nursing

30 September, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Night Shift Nursing

Author: Katherine Pakieser-Reed

Publisher: Sigma Theta Tau International 2013

Reviewer: Jade Day, student nurse, Anglia Ruskin Chelmsford

What was it like?

This book covers everything you need to know about working the night shift. It is well set out with clearly defined chapters and pleasing to the eye with different fonts and little quotes throughout that break up the text. Everything from great advice for healthy eating and exercise to maintaining the work/life balance, it’s all in there. 

What were the highlights?

One of the things I particularly liked were the passages written by real life nurses, as it gives you the feel that what has been written is backed up by real staff members. I also liked the links provided to get you involved a bit more such as the Night Owl quiz and the Wheel of Life diagram. Another thing that stood out to me is that there are many pieces of good advice for the management of workplaces, including how to support night staff in healthy eating and exercise, and keeping up professional development so they don’t become “invisible”.

What were the weaknesses:

It definitely highlights both the positives and the negatives of working the night shift, though I found my attention focusing on how detrimental to your health working the night shift can be. It gives great advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and I will be adopting a lot of the suggestions myself, but I can’t help feeling a bit put off of the night shift after reading it. Another thing that I’m a bit hung up on is that this is an US book and therefore aimed at US nurses. I’m not sure how many of the statistics, options available, information on workplaces, or terminology are appropriate for a UK audience. 

Who should read it?

This is a really helpful book, which would help students, registered nurses and management alike. Whether you already work the night shift or rotations, are preparing to start a job on night shifts, work in a management position or even have a family member who works the night shift, it’s definitely worth a read.

Night shift nursing

A good death? Law and Ethics in Practice

26 September, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: A good death? Law and Ethics in Practice

Edited by: Lynn Hagger and Simon Woods

Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Limited

Reviewer: Helen Reeves, clinical nurse manager, St Giles Walsall Hospice

 What was it like?

A good death? Law and ethics in practice is a book that explores end of life care matters that range from the right to demand treatment or death, suicide centres: a reasonable requirement or a step too far? To the good death, palliative care and end of life ethics. The authors who contribute to each chapter are diverse and range from philosophers to social scientists and parents.

What were the highlights?

The ranges of topics covered within the book are diverse and open critical thinking and debate. What is clear from the book is that there is no single definition of what constitutes a good death but there are a range of things that should be considered when trying to achieve a good death. The final chapter the story of Isabel is a moving reflection by the parent of a child who died of Tay-Sachs at the age of four and half. It focuses on the journey they experienced, the healthcare professionals that they encountered and the difficult decisions and conversations that were had during their daughter’s short life.

Strengths & weaknesses:

It looks at hard hitting topics such as suicide centres: a reasonable requirement or a step too far. It opens up the ethical and legal debates regarding such difficult topics and shows the direct correlation between how law and ethics are interrelated. The book is set out in way that is easy to read and covers a vast range of topics allowing the reader to consider the many complexities that surround end of life care and the differences in opinion in what really constitutes a good death.

Who should read it?

This book would be good for a range of healthcare professionals and also academics with a keen interest in what constitutes a good death. It would be an excellent text book for student healthcare professionals wanting to get a better insight into the complexities that surround end of life care decisions.


A good death

What is Nursing? Exploring Theory and Practice

25 September, 2014 Posted by: -


Title:What is Nursing? Exploring Theory and Practice. 

Authors: Carol Hall and Dawn Richie 

Publisher: Sage

Reviewer: Jane Brown, patient safety advisor, Worcester Acute NHS Trust

What was it like?

This book helps nursing students understand the concept of what nursing is all about.  This explores the theory, practical and professional aspects of nursing.

The book covers every aspect of nursing vital to ensuring the student nurse is supported throughout their training. There are Interviews with real nurses that give students a view into the real world of nursing.

What were the highlights?

This is an easy to read textbook, in which the reader can read this from beginning to end or use as a tool. It is a book for British nurses written by lecturers from Nottingham University, both having both acute and paediatric nurse experience.

This sets the student nurse off into their training with a good grounding and from the onset, image, communication and the care given to the patient.

The readers are lead through critical thinking, reflection, cases studies and the modern social networking sites and how to use safely. It also examines the importance of the early warning scores and patient assessments. 

I found the student tips and stories useful and enlightening.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Strengths are that this book is up to date and includes reference to the Robert Francis Mid Staffordshire Inquiry, highlighting that there is no excuse for poor quality patient care.

There are good activities that can be carried out by the reader or in college. The book is well referenced and there is good further reading and useful websites.

Although this is for the student the book takes them beyond this to preparing them as registered nurses. 

As a registered nurse who trained some thirty years ago I wish this book had been available as I gained a great deal now reading this.

Who should read it?

This text book is written for the student nurse and moving towards registration, but this book will refresh any grade of nurse and put nursing and caring for the patient back into focus.


What is nursing?

Clinical Examination Skills for Healthcare Professionals

24 September, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Clinical Examination Skills for Healthcare Professionals

Edited by: Hannah Abbott, Wendy Braithwaite and Mark Ranson

Publisher: M&K Publishing

Reviewer: Jade Day, Student Nurse, Anglia Ruskin Chelmsford              

What was it like?

This book is pretty much about everything to do with assessments. The first chapter is to do with the initial taking a patients history, and then the chapters following are a more in depth look at assessments for specified areas, including respiratory, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular assessments. It comes with a few handy images, tables and diagrams, which help break up the text and show information in different formats. It also has a handy abbreviations list at the beginning and glossary at the back that are helpful to refer to.

What were the highlights?

As a student nurse, the highlights for me were more the parts that I found most helpful. The first chapter concerning patient history is vital, and there are a couple of bits like the Glasgow Coma Scale and taking a manual blood pressure that were really useful. I also think that the obstetric chapter and the mental health chapter will be helpful for students in either of those fields.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The main weaknesses for me were more circumstantial than actual faults. I personally think this book is better aimed at practitioners rather than nurses or students so I didn’t find it as helpful as some others may find it. I also find in other student textbooks there are questions and activities throughout that aid learning, and there is nothing like that in this book. 

Who should read it?

Definitely a good read for practitioners or nurse practitioners. As a student not so much though there were a few bits I found helpful dotted throughout. 

Clinical Examination skills

Student Survival Skills – Medicine Management Skills for Nurses

23 September, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Student Survival Skills – Medicine Management Skills for Nurses

Author:  Claire Boyd

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Reviewer: Katherine Potts, ardiacc specialist nurse, North Bristol NHS Trust

What was it like?

This book is focused on medicines management skills and is aimed at pre-registration nursing students. There are 16 chapters that explore general medicines administration, drug calculations and all routes of medicines administration. It is designed to help the student to understand medicines administration in an easy accessible and clear format. Also included are activities, test your knowledge sections, questions, quick tips, and key learning points in each chapter to check understanding and knowledge. At the end of the book there is a knowledge test covering all aspects and the answers to the activities, questions and test your knowledge sections are included.

What were the highlights? 

The activities, test your knowledge and question sections with answers included are helpful to check understanding and to identify areas for further development and reading. The drug calculation examples help to show what calculations are used and then the activities help to put this into practice. The written text is complemented by tables, figures and pictures. The text also covers areas of the Nursing and Midwifery Council standards for pre-registration education and Essential Skills Clusters.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The book is clear and written at an appropriate level for the target audience. It is a useful quick reference quide to medicines administration. However a more detailed text such as the Marsden Manual may be need for more comprehensive explanation and  knowledge of some procedures such as intravenous drug administration and naso-gastric tube placement. There is some paediatric examples used but the main focus is on administration of medicines to adults. Whilst there is a chapter included on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics this is an overview and for more in depth pharmacology an alternative text would be needed. However the main focus is administration of medicines and this is covered in a clear, logical and accessible manner. The book is also available in e-book format.

Who should read it?

This book is aimed at pre-registration nursing students. Many sections of the book would also be useful for healthcare assistants or assistant practitioners who are undergoing training courses.

student survival

The student’s guide to becoming a midwife,second edition

22 September, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: The student’s guide to becoming a midwife, second edition

Author: Peate I, and Hamilton C

Publisher: Wiley Blackwell

Reviewer: Paul Watson, head of child development, Marshland High School.

What was it like?

The Student’s Guide to Becoming a Midwife claims to be essential reading for all student midwives. This guide has now been updated to include the latest 2012 NMC Midwifery Rules and Standards and a brand new chapter on the midwife and public health. The authors of the book claim that it is a comprehensive resource, providing a wide range of need–to–know information for student midwives, including: effective communication and documentation confidentiality interdisciplinary working, The fundamentals of antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care, assessment and examination of the new–born baby, medicines, public health, clinical decision–making and evidence–based practice. I believe that the book is able to substantiate its claim of being such a comprehensive resource.

What were the highlights? 

Typical of “Wiley Blackwell”, I always find that they produce great texts for professionals or those hoping to become professionals, and this book is no exception. An easy to use and read book, that provides lots of opportunities for learning with tables, charts and sketches. It provides an easy to use contents page and index along with a fantastic glossary, that anyone should be able to find the information they require.

Strengths & weaknesses:

This book is full of case studies, words of wisdom from current midwives and a range of activities and self–test questions throughout (with answers provided at the back of the book), making it easy to learn and understand key concepts. However I would have liked to see more visual aids, for example why not include a picture of “Mongolian blue spot” instead of just describing it? (Page 168).

Who should read it?

The Student’s Guide to Becoming a Midwife is the ideal companion for student midwifes throughout their course, although I believe that any students or practitioners likely to have anything to do with pregnancy or infants would benefit from this book.


The student’s guide to becoming a midwife

Frontline Alzheimer’s

16 September, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Frontline Alzheimer’s

Author: Tom Wearden

Publisher: Harina and Co, London

Reviewer: Liz Lees, clinical doctoral research fellow (NIHR), Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham

What was it like?

This book can be best described as one that eases the reader gently into the life adjustments experienced when with caring for someone (a loved one) with Alzheimer’s disease. The focus is upon Tom, husband of Margaret and “caring for Margaret at home”. The book details an eight-year period in their lives. It is presented as small accounts describing the pragmatic reality of caring for his wife throughout her deterioration in functionality; physical, social and emotional. The challenges of caring are openly explained, as are Tom’s resolutions.

What were the highlights? 

Tom writes in an almost matter of fact way making this an easy read, yet it is evident that he has amassed a wealth of intuitive knowledge about a breadth of symptoms his wife experiences, from simple infections to cancer. The art of knowing and patterns of recognition is a central tenant of his ability to care for Margaret, moreover his guidance of others involved in the network of carers that support him. It is a humbling read.

Strengths & weaknesses:

It is a great pity but Tom hardly mentions “how” he copes emotionally with day to day caring, although he describes physical & psychological aspects of his own health. Grief is mentioned but only superficially explored at two points in the book. Tom asserts his decision making yet he is always considerate of Margaret’s wishes, with reference to how he knew them to be, before Alzheimer’s disease. In this area of caring, this book should provide a much needed understanding of how imperative it is to work amongst close relatives, other carers, family and how to develop person-centred approach in relationships at the centre of caring tasks.

Who should read it?

This book is an essential read for anyone considering or already working as a paid carer, or training to be nurse. I stress “paid” carer – because this indicates a choice to enter this “world”.  

Front line Alzheimers


Understanding research for Nursing Students

9 September, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Understanding research for Nursing Students

Author: Peter Ellis

Publisher: Sage

Reviewer: Paul Watson, Head of Child Development, Marshland High School.

What was it like?

This book claims to help students recognise what good research is by providing an introductory guide to the main research methodologies used in nursing. It aims to simplify complex terminology and put research into context for nursing students. It gives clear examples and case studies that help the reader to find a direction that is suitable for them. This book includes many useful and interesting chapters, especially the chapter explaining the different ways students use research during their programme and in practice. It offers guidance on critiquing research and literature reviews with new case studies from each field of practice.  

I found it a well written and nicely presented book that was easy to use with a great index to help locate some obscure points.

What were the highlights? 

I really liked this book. It has a pleasing colour text design and a website with downloadable materials for lecturers to use to support their teaching and students to provide further reading materials. While the “web” extras were not fantastic they were a nice extra that came with this book.

Strengths & weaknesses:

A well written and well presented book that I believe will be of help to any student using it to assist in their understanding of research. This book is something completely different. It provides an excellent insight into research. It covers a broad range of research methodologies and methods and is a good introductory text regarding the key concepts involved in nursing research.  

Who should read it?

I believe that this would be of great help to all nursing students looking at research. It wouldn’t be out of place in the lecturer’s bookcase and I would suggest that more seasoned professionals completing research could benefit from having a copy. I feel that the ease of use will allow good quality research to be produced by any practitioner engaged in using it to it fullest.


Understanding research for Nursing Students

Comments (2)

Fundamentals of Medical-Surgical Nursing: A Systems Approach

22 August, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Fundamentals of Medical-Surgical Nursing A Systems Approach

Edited by: Anne-Marie Brady, Catherine McCabe and Margaret McCann

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Reviewer: Katherine Potts, cardiac specialist nurse, North Bristol NHS Trust


What was it like?

This book is a text on the fundaments of medical-surglcal nursing. The book is edited by three people with each chapter written by individuals with a credible clinical and academic background. It is set out in two parts with the first part looking at the common principles of medical-surgical nursing and the second part focusing on acute medical and surgical nursing. Part one is made up of 10 chapters that cover areas such as assessment, IV therapy, drug administration, end of life care and infection prevention and control. Part two is made up of 12 chapters taking a systems based approach including all areas of medical and surgical nursing such as nursing care of the skin, respiratory system, circulatory system, neurological system and haematological disorders. The chapters are structured in a logical, clear manner with a contents section, identified learning outcomes, introduction, further reading section and reference list.

 What were the highlights? 

The book is also available in e-book format and comes with access to the companion website. The companion website provides additional resources including multiple choice questions, reflective questions, case studies and links to additional resources. The chapters in part 2 of the book include anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, assessment, diagnostic tests, and common conditions that may be encountered. For these common conditions clinical, medical and nursing management is discussed. 

Strengths & weaknesses:

The book is clear and well written utilising up to date references and material. The objectives for each chapter are set out clearly with ample opportunities to check knowledge and understanding with the reflective questions, multiple choice questions and case studies through the online resource centre on the companion website. The illustrations used throughout the text are appropriate and add to the value of the written text. The format of each chapter makes the information easily accessible and allows the reader to dip in and out sections of the text with ease if looking for  specific information.

Who should read it?

This is book is aimed at pre-registration nursing students and other healthcare students but would also be appropriate for training or qualified assistant practitioners. It would also be useful to newly qualified nurses working in medical or surgical areas.


Fundamentals of Medical-Surgical Nursing A Systems Approach

Passing Calculations Tests for Nursing Students

18 August, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Passing Calculations Tests for Nursing Students

Authors: Susan Starking and Larry Krause

Publisher: Sage Publishing

Reviewer: Jade Day, student nurse at Anglia Ruskin Chelmsford

What was it like:

This lightweight and easy to read book is another great one from Sage. It covers everything you need to know to successfully do drug calculations. It starts out with a test of your basic knowledge, then the first few chapters cover teaching skills you need to build up to drug calculations. With activities throughout to reinforce learning and summaries at the end of each chapter, it covers a lot of bases to make you take information in properly. There are also parts specifically related to the mental health and child branches of nursing.

 What were the highlights? 

There is a lot about this book that is great, including the companion website with extra activities, and the useful website section they out at the end of each chapter for you to further your learning. The examples and sample charts like the fluid balance chart really help you to get a feel of what it’s like to do this in the workplace. I really like the exam skills and revision tips section, as well as the little cut out and keep page with need to know calculation information.

Strengths & weaknesses:

I can’t honestly say that there’s anything wrong with this book! The only thing I could think to change is that maybe a little bit of colour could be included to break up the black and white of the text.

Who should read it?

Definitely nursing students of any branch, potential applicants for nursing, and anyone who has graduated that wants to brush up on their drug calculations skills.

Passing Calculations Tests for Nursing Students

Comments (1)

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