With 3.5 million nurses in the United States, they are the country’s largest group of healthcare providers. So it’s not surprising that after investigating sororities, geeks, overachievers and more, award-winning journalist Alexandra Robbins has turned her attention to The Nurses.
After interviewing hundreds, Robbins narrowed her focus to the personal narratives of four nurses. Although the author relies on pseudonyms and doesn’t identify the names of their hospitals or their locations, their stories are compelling in every way.
While undergoing fertility treatments, “Molly” quits her job at a hospital that treats nurses horribly and signs on with a nursing agency to seek out better working environments. A real-life Nurse Jackie, “Lara” is a highly skilled nurse who accidentally became addicted to narcotics while on the job. “Juliette” is an ER nurse who feels ostracized by a group of clique-y nurses. “Sam” is beginning her career and learning to navigate the ropes, with her first-day mantra being “Just don’t kill anyone.”
Interspersed with these narratives are discussions of nurse bullying, sex, on-the-job injuries, burnout, drug issues, heroism and more. There are horrific anecdotes (a nurse is ordered to keep working after being attacked by a patient, and ends up with a fractured neck), as well as heartwarming moments (Molly wheels a dying man and his wife of 68 years to watch their last sunrise together).
Robbins concludes by offering remedies for the many problems nurses encounter, with suggestions for what patients, families, nurses and aspiring nurses can do to make things better.
RELATED CONTENT: Read an interview with author Alexandra Robbins.