The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives by Theresa Brown

The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' LivesThe Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives by Theresa Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brown captures the drama and tension of high-stakes medicine in this non-fiction description of a single 12-hour shift as a nurse on a cancer ward. It is very reminiscent of the Boston Med or New York Med TV series. It is a short read and fast not only because of its shortness but also because it is riveting. Brown is a Ph.D. in English who taught at Tufts University before giving up teaching for nursing. As one might expect, her writing is polished and clear, mixing the human interest elements with clinical detail. If the grim reality of cancer is not something you can stomach, then pass on this one, but I found it fascinating.

As a word maven, or grammar Nazi if you prefer, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of errors. On page 170 she says “I … peak under the bed.” I smiled when I read that, thinking most women would brag about peaking in the bed, but whatever floats your boat. She also got the punch line to a joke wrong. The correct line is “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun you.” These peccadillos notwithstanding, I highly recommend this book.

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