’ It is a good read for the general public as it tells a story of self-discovery and accomplishment.’
Title: An Ever Rolling Stream
Author: Don Snuggs
Reviewer: Susie Dunkley, hospice clinical nurse specialist, St Peter’s Hospice, Bristol
What was it like?
This book is a memoir detailing the author’s experience of growing up during the Second World War in a conventional religious family, his subsequent nursing career in the NHS and the RAF, and the realisation of his ambition to practise as an acupuncturist. It is a story of determination and enlightenment peppered throughout with anecdotes both witty and uncompromising.
The author enters the RAF for his national service after qualifying as a nurse and remains there for 22 years. It is this experience, which shapes him and he finds the contrast between the smooth running, friendly and efficient way of working as a nurse in the RAF and the reactionary, unquestioning and at times bullying attitude within the NHS quite baffling. He describes this in unflinching detail. Throughout the book he remains critical of its bureaucracy and his indignation increases as the idea evolves that the NHS should be run as a business when it is not a profit making organisation.
As an educator of nurses his raison d’etre is “to educate nurses and not train” and his excitement, as he describes his opportunities to do this, is palpable. He is appalled by the entrenched attitude of some nurses to practise in a certain way because ”that’s what’s always been done here” and he takes every opportunity to reiterate his contempt for this. This can come across as slightly smug, although it is hard not to have sympathy with his frustration.
What were the highlights?
The highlight of this book is the author’s journey in self-discovery. He aptly titles his chapter in which he decides that he wants to train as an accupuncturist as “Waking up”. At this point the reader feels he has reached a new beginning because of what has gone before. His determination to treat the person and not merely the disease is unequivocal.
Strengths and weaknesses?
At times the prose is a little cumbersome and the dialogue is over-detailed. The author is not shy of expressing his opinion, which adds to the drama but can come across as slightly preachy. However the subject is captivating and the story unfolds easily.
Who should read it?
This book offers an insight into the nursing profession long before it became the graduate profession it is today, when knowledge was obtained by an apprentice style training with its unquestioning approach to nursing procedures. It will appeal to any nurse who shares a similar nursing training and background to the author for its sheer nostalgia. It is also a good read for the general public as it tells a story of self-discovery and accomplishment.
an ever rolling stream