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Book club: your reviews

Reflective Practice in Nursing

26 February, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Reflective Practice in Nursing

Author: Lioba Howatson-Jones

Publisher: Sage, 2013

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

What was it like?

Reflective Practice in Nursing aims to make sense of, experiences that can sometimes seem uncertain, chaotic or even mundane to practitioners expected to reflect upon their own work and given situations. This book introduces nurses to reflection in a clear and practical manner, explaining what reflection is, why it is so important to nursing practice and the different types of reflection that can be used to help make sense of practice.

When I started nursing I struggled with the concept of reflection, finding it a dry and time consuming process, often with little beneficial outcome. Before I came into nursing I was working in Engineering and had a mental image of “Models”. This image was certainly not what reflective models were about. Many years on I now have a greater understanding of reflection and of nursing models, but feel that this book while interesting and informative to me now, may still be somewhat dry to new practitioners starting out. In the 170 pages there are few actual visual representations of “models” and I fear that this might make the learning process more difficult for visual learners (the type of learner, along with the kinaesthetic learner who is likely to come into the profession). As I have progressed as a practitioner I have learned to appreciate such books but have also learned to present “Reflection” and “models” in a new and different way to students, engaging them in the professional reflective practice.

What were the highlights? 

This book is interesting in that it includes a new chapter on using digital media in reflection, new case studies from each field of practice and new activities.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Apart from being wordy, and limited on visual representations and tools, it is laid out in a logical and attractive manner that is easy to access. The index isconcise and allows practitioners with specific questions to access the appropriate text, quickly and easily.

Who should read it?

While it is imperative that student nurses are encouraged to reflect on their practice I feel that this book might not be right for all of them. It is however a useful tool for senior staff and mentors/teachers to deliver this process to junior staff.


Reflective Practice in Nursing

Evidence-based Practice in Nursing

25 February, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Evidence-based Practice in Nursing

Author: Peter Ellis

Publisher: Sage Publishers, 2013

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

What was it like?

This book has eight chapters, which are each designed to engage the reader in the identification, appraisal and relevant application of evidence in practice. I think the title of this book undersells its value – it could be called “a students essential handbook to achieving evidence based nursing in practice”.

There is a wealth of knowledge in each chapter and even as an expert nurse and academic trainee, I found the exercises thought provoking. The book deconstructs what is thought of by most as a complex topic, it does so by offering bite sized chunks and provides excellent insights how to apply this in practice.

What were the highlights? 

“Clinical decision-making in evidence based nursing” by Mooi Standing is a real highlight.

This chapter brings the two worlds of research and practice together and makes it feel possible in a pragmatic way.

Strengths & weaknesses:

Its strengths are numerous: there is an excellent glossary, web-links to resources and many activities, which are well grounded in practice. There is perhaps one weakness despite the strength of the links to practice throughout the book I think there is a missed opportunity to refer to the 6C’s.

Who should read it?

This book is aimed at students on degree courses. It would certainly be of benefit to nurses who perhaps have not undertaken a module or course in evidence based practice, acting as a practical guide to enhance the development of practice.


Evidence-based practice in Nursing

Paediatric Intensive Care Nursing

19 February, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Paediatric Intensive Care Nursing

Edited by: Michaela Dixon and Doreen Crawford

Publisher: Wiley Blackwell

Reviewer: Dr Jo Wilson, managing director, WHS

What was it like?

A good comprehensive and systematic textbook that covers many aspects of specialised paediatric intensive care nursing. The book is logistically written in four sections with section one providing an excellent introduction; section two a systems approach across the bodily functions and specific diseases; section three clearly outlining essential specialised care and section four covering holistic aspects of nursing. The needs of children are paramount through the PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) with ever advancing treatments from staff with appropriate advanced skills, knowledge and understanding through family centred care and support. Safety and appropriateness of complex care is essential and has to be matched to qualified medical and nursing staffing levels and skills mix requirements to meet paediatric intensive care standards and services This book outlines these essential requirements and aligns them to importance of the nurses role in each of the sections.

What were the highlights? 

The book takes a systematic approach around each topic and clearly takes the reader through the steps and stages through enhancing their understanding and application of the skills and knowledge. Tables summarising the information and providing normal levels in order to support detection of abnormalities and areas for action support this clear approach. There are also a number of flow diagrams that help to enhance understanding and the expected outcomes. Chapter five on Cardiac Conditions is particularly well written starting from embryology, anatomy and physiology and then congenital heart disease and management strategies.   

Strengths & weaknesses:

The strengths are the systematic and logical approach that this textbook takes in order to enhance knowledge and understanding. Within the essential care section the chapters on Nutrition and Fluid Management and Management of Pain and Sedation are both really good and clearly link important aspects of paediatric care and management. One possible area of weakness was in the chapter on Care of the Family, where more support aspects of the family and their involvement could have been covered and the important role they have in their child’s care, recovery and family centred care involvement.

Who should read it?

Paediatric and PICU nurses and medical staff. Also commissioners of care and regulators. 

Paediatric Intensive Care Nursing

Hospice Voices: Lessons for living at the end of life

17 February, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Hospice Voices: Lessons for living at the end of life

Author: Eric Lindner

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield 2013

Reviewer: Robert Becker, independent lecturer in palliative care

What was it like?

Eric Lindner is a Hospice volunteer in US and this book charts his experiences in this role over the last four years via a series of carefully crafted and sensitively written vignettes. He has no background in health care and approaches his encounters in a modest and forthright manner that comes across strongly in the text. It’s written in a mix of first and third person narrative, which helps keep the story telling alive to the reader, yet gives it the feel of a short novella rather than an informative learning text. As such the reader is given a detailed insight into the lives, loves and tragic losses of these people and their complex family circumstances.     

What were the highlights? 

I liked the honesty in this book. It has no pretensions and doesn’t try to preach to the reader. It’s not a book you can dip into in a coffee break, however, and that’s a good thing. It demands your attention for at least the time it takes to read and digest one chapter i.e. about 20-30 minutes on average. Perhaps its most important message lies in the simple mantra of dos and don’ts  the author was given during his induction to volunteering and which forms a discreet, but central part of the book. Among other things he was told to always – be genuine, respect boundaries, learn to live with silence, to encourage life review and to take care of yourself; sage advice indeed. He was also told not to judge others, break confidentiality, take things personally, not to expect someone to conform to your own values and beliefs and lastly, but no least important, to remember that it’s the little things that mean a lot.    

Strengths & weaknesses:

The stories do tend to go off on a tangent at times particularly when the author insists on telling the reader about his own health issues and centring in on other family members rather too much. More judicious editing would have helped and given the text a sharper focus. In this case the maxim “less is more” most definitely applies. Some UK readers may find the American terminology difficult to follow at times, but stick with it as it mostly sets the context well for these sincere accounts. Its unique selling point is that it’s written by a volunteer not a media celebrity, or health care professional, but as with a number of these books it sometimes becomes less about the patient interactions and more about the authors’ journey. This book has a tendency to fall into that trap at times and it detracts from its undoubted strengths.     

Who should read it?

Those who work in a hospice setting will find this book of mixed benefit. Much of the content will be familiar, but not revelatory. The same applies to all nurses who have regular contact with the dying. It does a good job, however, of reminding us of our common humanity, which is no bad thing in the current furore surrounding care abuse scandals that seem to dominate the media in the UK. If nothing else it also reminds us that for every high profile expose there are many thousands of warm compassionate daily encounters with the dying that never get noticed or reported.     


Hospice voices

Fostering Nurse-Led Care Professional Practice For the Bedside Leader

13 February, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Fostering Nurse-Led Care Professional Practice For the Bedside Leader

Authors: Jeanette Ives Erickson, Dorothy A Jones and Marianne Ditomassi

Publisher: Sigma Theta Tau International, 2013 

Reviewer: Jane Brown, Patient Safety Advisor, Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust

What was it like?

From the onset of this book, it emphasises leadership from the bedside. This explores the whole concept of nursing practice within the clinical setting. It acknowledges the strains that nurses are under to deliver good quality care under tight budgets and in a poor climate of trying to retain nursing staff.

It provides practical information about the important leadership roles that nurses can take up at the bedside while caring for patients and their relatives. In the long term it describes how to build an environment in which these initiatives can thrive and enhance the quality of care for patients.

What were the highlights? 

This book is written in the US and was in response to the 2010 Institute of Medicine’s report on the future of nursing. There were four key points from this report:

  • Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
  • Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
  • Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the US.
  • Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and information infrastructure.

This book is extremely apt for the UK also with the publication in February 2013- Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry by Robert Francis QC.  Where the emphasis is first and foremost in putting the patient first, ensuring nurses  have practical hands on training, aptitude tests for compassion and caring, ensuring nursing managers have a supervisory role within the healthcare setting to promote excellence in healthcare and common information, shared data and electronic records to name a few of the recommendations.

This book has come at the right time for both nurses in the US and the UK as both havethe opportunity to transform its health care system.

Strengths & weaknesses:

It is written by US nurses for nurses practicing in the states and makes reference to US specific nursing standards. Although this is the case ,it is a well written book in which nurses working in the UK will benefit from and realise the strong parallels with the 2010 Institute of Medicine’s report on the future of nursing, and the 2013 Francis Report.

The authors are senior nurses working at Massachusetts General Hospital with varying experiences in research, nursing posts, and leadership roles.

The authors describe the Professional Practice Model, which Erickson developed including many examples of nursing theories, decision making, advanced leadership, and current trends. It includes case studies within each chapter which all nurses can relate to. The book is easy to read and is well referenced.

A particular point also to make is whom this book is dedicated to, and refreshingly this is to patients and just why the authors came into the nursing profession.

Who should read it?

This book must be available for all trained nurses as it covers many areas of nursing practice and leadership. Student nurses must have this at the top of their reading lists to ensure they have the opportunity in being pioneers as part of a redesigned healthcare setting.

Fostering Nurse-Led care


Fallen Angel

7 February, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Fallen Angel

Author: Maggie Wilson

Publisher: KA Books

Reviewer: Hannah Marriage, student health visitor,  Leicester Partnership Trust

What was it like?

It took me a while to get into the story as the first few chapters did not fully grab my attention and make me want to read more. I found the whole book jumped around a lot, from one character to another, and did not flow as well as I would have liked. However, overall the story was interesting to read and showed the difficulties faced by both the nursing team and the police processing the case in front of them.

The twist at the end of the book was interesting, though once I got to that part of the book the twist was clear rather than a shock.

What were the highlights?

Personally I wouldn’t say there were any particular highlights in the book as a whole, yet the story was interesting and raised a number of thoughts about how I as a nurse would react if this situation were ever to arise during my time practising as a nurse.

Strengths and Weaknesses?

Even though the story was interesting, I struggled to get into the book. However, throughout reading I found myself questioning various characters and trying to establish who the guilty party was and how had the crimes been committed.

I also felt that the book covered some interesting topics, such as staff reaction to death on the ward, and how it was investigated by the police.

Who should read it?

Anyone who enjoys reading murder mysteries.


Nurses! Test Yourself in Pathophysiology

28 January, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Nurses! Test Yourself in Pathophysiology

Authors: Katherine M A Rogers and William N Scott

Publisher: Open University Press

Reviewer: Allison Crocker, theatre practitioner, Poole General Hospital

What was it like?

The book is a wide ranging test resource covering the full range of topics in pathophysiology split by body system. Each system is questioned by a differing range of questions including labelling diagrams, true false and multiple choice. Answers are given with full explanations in order to reinforce the learning.

What were the highlights? 

The highlight of the book is the inclusion of diagram labelling, which is often neglected in books of this type.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The strength of the book is its comprehensive coverage of the full range of body systems. It has no major weaknesses I could identify.

Who should read it?

The book will prove ideal for the student operating department practitioner or nurse revising the field prior to an examination.

NURSES! Test Yourself in Pathophysiology

Children’s Respiratory Nursing

21 January, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Children’s Respiratory Nursing

Edited by: Janice Mighten

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013

Reviewer: Kim Shrieves, BSc (hons), Child Health Nursing, RN (Child)

What was it like?

This user friendly, comprehensive text book is a practical up to date and evidence-based guide regarding the management of children with respiratory conditions. It provides clinical information in a concise, structured and informative way to assist and support the knowledge required and clinical skills needed to nurse children with acute and chronic respiratory conditions in both primary and secondary care.

This book begins with an overview of the general principles underpinning children’s respiratory nursing such as anatomy and physiology of the child’s respiratory system, nursing assessment, history taking and collaborative working. Each subsequent section builds upon this knowledge with sections relating to respiratory investigations that aid diagnosis and treatment such as chest x-rays and bronchoscopy, assessment of airflow and lung volume leading into oxygen therapy and long term ventilation paying some consideration to national guidelines, ethical dilemmas and nursing support for the family. Section three looks at respiratory conditions and management of lung infection providing an overview of common respiratory infections with reference to local and national guidelines. The final section moves away from management of conditions towards issues impacting on nursing practice such as transition from child to adult services, legal and ethical issues and the professional communication skills needed to care for children and their families. Finally, a glossary, list of abbreviations and answer section and index informs and supports the text and further learning needs.

What were the highlights?

The major highlight of this book is that it has a strong practical focus throughout, and its structured approach will benefit the majority of readers greatly each section building upon the last in a straightforward manner.

Strengths & weaknesses:

It is structured systematically and clearly, beginning with learning objectives, complimented by visual aids (pictures, tables and flow charts etc) or case studies for increased clarity assisting the reader to better understand the information being presented or as examples of good practice and most of the chapters conclude with questions and answers to consolidate learning.

Despite being of a small size it covers the range of clinical skills and background knowledge and understanding required by children’s nurses (well although not exhaustive). It lays the foundations of practice knowledge without neglecting any important issues. Additionally, this book includes a glossary of terms and abbreviations used within the text and frequently within nursing practice. As such it makes an excellent starting point and source of reference for those involved in nursing children and young people.

Who should read it?

In addition to being aimed at qualified nurses caring for children with respiratory conditions this book will be of benefit to all children’s nurses with a particular interest in respiratory conditions wanting to develop their level of understanding of the special management required in this area. Those new to and in the early years of practice will be able to refer to this text when working to answer day to day practice questions, obtain clinical information on conditions and procedures and understand underlying pathophysiology of relevance within hospital and community settings.

 Children's Respiratory Nursing

Children’s Respiratory Nursing

Turning Point. A 6 Step Process for Transforming Your Life

6 January, 2014 Posted by: -

Title: Turning Point. A 6 Step Process for Transforming Your Life

Author: Dr Rohan Weerasinghe

Publisher: Ecademy Press, 2011

Reviewer: Carol Singleton, Queen’s Nurse, clinical project manager end of life care, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

What was it like?

This is a book designed and written to help you identify that you have reached a “turning point” in your life and to take your through the “Six Step Change Process” using the practical tools so that you can “discover the recipe for creating lifelong fun and passionate relationships”.

There is a “recommended” reading list of books written by people who have inspired the author of this book in the world of business, spiritual and personal development, and a short section describing books, CDs, DVDs and seminars produced by Dr Weerasinghe but no index.

What were the highlights? 

The book is divided into four sections of 13 chapters, the first section covers “clearing the obstacles on the path”, the second “the six-step change process”, the third “the three pillars for life balance” and the fourth “where the rubber meets the road”. There are exercises and suggestions of how to make changes to various areas of your life including financial, relationships, diet and exercise.

Strengths & weaknesses:

There are examples of people helped by Dr Weerasinghe’s work throughout the book, which helps to describe situations that readers may have also experienced and then there are explanations of what was happening to the person and how things could be done differently.

The section of the book, which describes detoxing and “cleansing: top down – bottom up” may put off some readers from following Dr Weerasinghe’s  ideas as it suggests regular colonic irrigations as part of the plan but it is not compulsory and the rest of his ideas make good sense.

Who should read it?

This book will appeal to anybody who has reached a “turning point” in their life whether this relates to health, finances, career or relationships or a combination of these elements. It is the sort of book that can be dipped into and out of without needing to read it cover to cover but is so interesting that it is quite difficult to skip sections.

Turning Point book cover

Turning Point. A 6 Step Process for Transforming Your Life by Dr Rohan Weerasinghe

Distance Education in nursing

20 December, 2013 Posted by: -


Title: Distance Education in nursing (Third edition)

Authors: Karen Frith and Deborah J Clark

Publisher: Spring Publishing Company, 2012

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

What was it like?

This book is written in the US and is in its third edition dealing with the ever changing aspect of distance learning for nurses. Technology enables the student to use technology to learn. It is not always practical for a nurse to further her education by being classroom based nor can the workplace nowadays release someone on infinite study days to a classroom.

Distance education in nursing

It specifies what can and can’t be taught via technology, via the internet.

This is to aid teachers look at their teaching approach and move with the times to aid the learner.

What were the highlights? 

This edition is in keeping with the need and advances of distance learning. Today we have conference facilities, e-learning within the workplace, distance learning within course work and technology, whether we like it or not is here to stay.

This book aids the teacher to engage in new ways to teach within technology, and as this can be both daunting for the teacher and student, the books guides the reader through how to support the learner.

It facilitates the teacher to teach from RN to doctorate level.

Karen Frith and Deborah Clark, the editors, both hold doctorates in nursing in the US. They have both written widely on this subject. Not only are they professors but they have both got years of clinical experience as well.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The authors are realistic in that the teacher must be under no illusion this is not to take the easy option and to be effective, this will be time consuming. Time needs to be factored in for answering student emails and electronic record keeping as well as maintaining the site.

For teachers who have had mainly face to face teaching, this book guides them through the way forward in a reassuring way, with helpful tips and advice.

The book gives an excellent synopsis of what distance education is, and acknowledges some will only be aware of online software products and this leads the reader on to a greater understanding.

Once the reader grasps this is still teaching, with preparation, tools and lesson plans, the reader then realises this is attainable and can work.

Patricia Benner from Novice to Expert (1984) has for me personally been an inspiration and driving force throughout my career. A new ground-breaking on line education scheme is being established by this person and this is an aspect, readers will want to find out more.

There is just so much to gain from this book, from overcoming barriers, mobile computing, programme design to how quality can be monitored.

This is extremely well referenced and up to date; it even advises the reader of how social networking can be used effectively in education.

Although some of the text is for readers in the US, there is so much that can be applied to the UK.

Who should read it?

This book is not just for the academic university tutor but for all healthcare professionals who teach. It would be useful to those in hospitals revamping mandatory training, e- learning and other courses to fit in with the modern world around us.

This edition needs to be on the shelf for all who teach and needs to ensure that technology is not a barrier to teaching, but a tool to move with the ever changing world we live in.


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