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To heal the sick: nursing in the NHS in the 1960’s

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’This book is recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of nursing as a profession as well as anyone who enjoys a light hearted read about the challenges of life as a student nurse.’

Title: To heal the sick: nursing in the NHS in the 1960’s

Author: Jane Dean

Publisher: Catford Press

Reviewer: Jennie Walker, divisional lead nurse for research and innovation, Surgery Division, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

What was it like?

This book offers an account of the memoirs of nurses who trained at Preston Royal Infirmary in the 1960’s. There are various personal recollections from the year group about starting their journey in nursing, experiences on the wards, and what life was like as a student nurse during this time. The clear reflection on nursing, as it was then, and as it is now, highlights the vast differences in nursing practice over the years. This book not only gives an interesting insight into the historical context of nursing, but the clarity of detail draws the reader in to the experience of nurse training as if they were there themselves. The book is written with warmth and affection for the profession, although honestly portrays some of the difficulties experienced as part of nurse training.

What were the highlights?

Each chapter accounts the experience and memories of a different student nurse, which builds an overall picture of what life was like to train as a nurse in the 1960’s. As well as the detailed accounts of hierarchy, clinical practice and fond memories of colleagues, the book contains treasured photos of those who are remembered within the chapters. The book also has the lovely touch of ending each chapter with a brief summary of the nurse’s life and how their career progressed after initial training.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The strengths of the book include the easy to read text, humour and situations which most registered nurses will be able to relate to, especially if they trained before nursing became a degree course. As the memories are from the same cohort of students there is some repetition in events towards the end of the book, however this does not detract from the overall interest and enjoyment of reading the accounts.

Who should read it?

This book is recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of nursing as a profession as well as anyone who enjoys a light hearted read about the challenges of life as a student nurse.

to heal the sick

to heal the sick

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