When Chicken Soup Isn't Enough: Stories of Nurses Standing Up for Themselves, Their Patients, and Their Profession

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Suzanne Gordon
Cornell University Press, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 250 pages
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The reassuring bromides of "chicken soup for the soul" provide little solace for nurses—and the people they serve—in real-life hospitals, nursing homes, schools of nursing, and other settings. In the minefield of modern health care, there are myriad obstacles to quality patient care—including work overload, inadequate funds for nursing education and research, and poor communication between and within the professions, to name only a few. The seventy RNs whose stories are collected here by the award-winning journalist Suzanne Gordon know that effective advocacy isn't easy. It takes nurses willing to stand up for themselves, their coworkers, their patients, and the public.

When Chicken Soup Isn't Enough brings together compelling personal narratives from a wide range of nurses from across the globe. The assembled profiles in professional courage provide new insight into the daily challenges that RNs face in North America and abroad—and how they overcome them with skill, ingenuity, persistence, and individual and collective advocacy at work and in the community. In this collection, we meet RNs working at the bedside, providing home care, managing hospital departments, teaching and doing research, lobbying for quality patient care, and campaigning for health care reform.

Their stories are funny, sad, deeply moving, inspiring, and always revealing of the different ways that nurses make their voices heard in the service of their profession. The risks and rewards, joys and sorrows, of nursing have rarely been captured in such vivid first-person accounts. Gordon and the authors of the essays contained in this book have much to say about the strengths and shortcomings of health care today—and the role that nurses play as irreplaceable agents of change.


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Part 1
A Covert Operation
Saving Patients from Dr Death
A Lesson for the Principal
The Delicate Discharge
No Patience for Poison
An Inconvenient Nurse
A Safe Delivery from Domestic Abuse
To Do the Unthinkable
The Only Nurse for Miles Around
More Than Booboos and BandAids
First Responders in the AIDS Epidemic
Part 6
Silenced during the SARS Epidemic

Mr CEO Will You Marry Me?
Intolerable Behavior
One Is One Too Many
A Comfortable Cover Up
Stacking the Cards in Our Favor
Part 2
Mentor Unto Others
A Dose of Diplomacy
Standing Up for What You Dont Know
Broken Bones and Ice Cream
Treating Transition Shock
The EmptyHands Round
Part 3
EyeI Advocacy
As If the Patient Can Hear You
Dont Just Add Nurses and Stir
Gloves Off
The Overlooked Symptom
Hope in the Midst of Tragedy
The Advantages of Age
An Expiration Date for Indignancy
What Hospice Is For
A Real Pain
Part 4
Ill Call in Sick If I Have To
Doing the Heavy Lifting
Attacked by a Patient Abandoned by My Hospital
The Samurai Sword
Only When Its Safe
The Red Shirts Are Coming
Not Saints or Sisters
Part 5
Putting Lymphedema on the Map
In the Halls of Academe
Real Nurses Dont Wear Wings
The Lady with a Loud Voice
Taking on the Terminator
Defending the Nursing Profession over Dinner
Remaking the Power Nurse
Health Policy from Nurses Point of View
Maybe We Should Be Bragging
Finessing the Chairman of the Board
Called to Duty at 30000 Feet
Part 7
Nurse PI on a Clinical Trial
The Need for Nurse Evaluators
Research and NursingHome Reform
How Nurses Make It Work
Teamwork through Research
Keep Asking Questions
No More Martys
Taking On Conventional Wisdom
Part 8
Winning Recognition of Nursing Expertise
A Union Just for Nurses
We Rained on Their Parade
Protesting on the Red Carpet
Saving the Carney
Part 9
The Male Midwife
Fighting for Our Vets
We Are the Experts
A Collective Voice
We Will Not Be Silenced
Standing By One Patient

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About the author (2010)

Suzanne Gordon is coeditor of the Cornell University Press series The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work and was program leader of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Nurse Manager in Action Program. She is the author of Nursing against the Odds and The Battle for Veterans' Healthcare ; coauthor of From Silence to Voice , Life Support , Safety in Numbers , Beyond the Checklist , and Bedside Manners ; editor of When Chicken Soup Isn't Enough ; and coeditor of The Complexities of Care , First, Do Less Harm , and Collaborative Caring , all from Cornell.

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