’This is an excellent book for new students or nurses who want to understand nursing’s history and its issues or those who are interested in changing education or practice in a way which learns from past mistakes.’
Title: The Nurse’s Reality Shift: using history to transform the future
Author: Leslie Neal-Boylan
Publisher: The Honour Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International
Reviewer: Rebecca Harper, staff nurse, Intensive Care
What was it like?
This is a pertinent read following the Francis Report findings into care failures and the more recent plans to improve nurse education from Lord Willis. It explores historical issues in nursing – poorly standardised education, arguments for and against a degree educated profession, preceptorship, interprofessional relationships, workforce planning and a need for nurses to be more united and involved in policy decisions – from an American perspective but most are equally applicable to the UK situation. Interestingly, it reads like a lengthy study with an introduction, literature and history review, the results of a survey, list of recommendations culminating in a conclusion.
What were the highlights?
The author hails from a family of nurses and each chapter begins with a story from her mother’s experiences in nursing. These act as a good reminder that we must listen to our past in order to improve the future. The conclusions at the end of each chapter work well to summarise key ideas.
Strengths & weaknesses:
Despite the US perspective, most of the issues explored in this book speak to nurses and students in the UK. It was refreshing to read something so brutally honest about our situations and lack of progress over 100 years – the need but lack of encouragement towards critical thinking, strong and honest mentorship, the lip-service paid to community care and the need for strong leadership, which understands and speaks to bedside nurses.
The main themes of the book from its survey are education, practice and policy. These are discussed in several chapters and so it begins to feel quite repetitive, especially as the same issues are constantly revisited. I also found that the book tries to cover many issues, which results in little real detail or nuance. This was particularly evident in the chapters designated to provide recommendations to tackle nursing issues. There were many suggestions but little to no specifics as to how these could be implemented. While the author states the purpose of this section was more to begin a conversation, I found the lack of detail frustrating. The tone of the book also seems overly negative at times, for example the chapter “What Are We Doing Right?” is littered with negative comments yet the next chapter “What Are We Doing Wrong?” is not similarly filled with positive points.
Who should read it?
This is an excellent book for new students or nurses who want to understand nursing’s history and its issues or those who are interested in changing education or practice in a way which learns from past mistakes. This could be a great way to encourage debate and it makes some interesting suggestions that the UK nursing profession should seriously consider.
the nurses reality shift