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I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse
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I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  325 ratings  ·  46 reviews
This collection of true narratives reflects the dynamism and diversity of nurses, who provide the first vital line of patient care. Here, nurses remember their first “sticks,” first births, and first deaths, and reflect on what gets them though long, demanding shifts, and keeps them in the profession. The stories reveal many voices from nurses at different stages of their ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by In Fact Books (first published February 25th 2013)
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262nd out of 990 books — 1,195 voters
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Women in Science
29th out of 120 books — 15 voters

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An amazing collection of nursing experiences in short stories from a wide range of perspectives. Very well written and easy to read. Really enjoyed it. Favourites being: The haunting, Healing Wang Jie's bottom, Docking in Togo, Listening and other lifesaving measures, Four sticks, All alone and afraid: becoming a person through nursing, Individually identifiable, Approaching death and The nurses whispered. Touching, thought provoking and recommended!
Interesting essays by various nurses at various points in their nursing careers. Being a nurse a neighbor thought I'd like to read this after he finished it. It is not a book I would have thought to read as I have encountered many of the situations of these nurses. The challenges, traumas, and learning experiences that nursing brings to one's professional and personal life is hard for those outside nursing to understand and these essays may help but for me, it was interesting to read but didn't ...more
Defiantly an interesting title. And reading this book it becomes very clear that nurses have to be strong.Nur sing is one of the most physically and emotionally challenging jobs out there and sadly their voices aren't always heard. This book is long over due. Doctors grab all the glory in the medical field and nurses are all to often the unsung heroes. This book sings their songs; loud & strong.
This book was a compilation, so some of the essays were better than others. It was an interesting look at the emotional strain of being a nurse and an inside view into the world of nursing. Reading it gave me an even greater respect for people who choose to go into nursing. It is not a career for the fainthearted.
pretty good, if uneven, collection of essays by nurses. variable formats -- some focus on a specific patient or even a specific incident from their training days, while others recap entire careers. And as might be expected from any set of essayists chosen on basis of profession, some are good writers and some less so.

Probably the best 6 or so would be excellent magazine articles individually. As a collection to read straight through it was less effective b/c a decent amount of repetition. Each p
Loved reading these nurses' stories. Their experiences were both inspiring and familiar to me. I look forward to working with patients whose lives touch mine, and to developing my strength throughout my nursing career. This book was like chicken soup for the nursing student's soul!
Great set of vignettes about the life and work of nurses. I get tired of hearing the story only from the side of the physician, even if he is as smart as Gawande, so this presents a welcome set of voices.
I'm half way through the book and I am already feeling that I have a much better understanding of the important work of the registered nursing workforce.
Emily Pittsley
Very much enjoyed. Makes me feel like I'm not alone w/the feelings I still get sometimes as a "new" nurse. I recommend to any nurse, new or old!
Terri Jacobson
A collection of essays by nurses in different fields of nursing by practitioners of all ages. Very moving stories.
If you want to have an idea of what it's like to work in different nursing fields, this is the book for you. In addition, this book will help you consider whether or not nursing is for you. Can you handle the grueling, demanding work days? Can you handle all kinds of patients? Do you think you'll be able to balance family life with work? By reading these nurses' stories, you might able to provide more concrete answers to these personal questions to yourself. This collection of stories is helping ...more
Doranne Long
This is an amazing selection of essays written by nurses, ranging from fears of newly-trained nurses, to the reflections of those with decades of experiences. I will never look at a nurse the same again. That said by a physical therapist who has worked along side nurses and already appreciate their risking their own health and wellness while caring for others, usually in over-worked, under-paid environments. In addition, this book as a must-read, for patients, family members, and other caregiver ...more
Elisabeth Manley
I honestly think anyone could read this book and enjoy it. It was a great collection of real stories from nurses when they were starting out and anyone could appreciate them. As a current nursing student it was great to read about things I'm going through now in my clinical placement. Or to read about research processes and "nursing diagnoses" and know that what we've learned will actually be applicable down the road. I loved every story in here and both laughed and cried at what they had to say ...more
So much to say about this book, but to sum it up, I would have everyone read the forward and introduction. Nurses are indeed the most silent, non-boastful group of healthcare workers. The public has their own views on what nurses do, but the only ones who really know are other nurses themselves. There is a common bond between all of us and we are the only ones that just GET one another. Only another nurse can really understand what we do through on a daily basis. I could most definately relate t ...more
Not really a memoir, this book is a set of essays by nurses in various specialities from the NICU to the Mercy Ships to hospice. I think the essays are universally interesting, well written and varied in terms of the topic. Most are a good length, about 10-15 pages. Anyone who likes to read about medical issues would like this book. I've actually had this on my list of books to read for over a year before I was finally able to get it through ILL. It had a great write up in the NYT in early 2013.
I like these true personal essays. They span a wide variety of experiences, and a wide variety of people. I think this would be a great book to have in a nursing curriculum, or for anyone thinking about becoming a nurse, or if you know a nurse and you wonder what their working life is all about. Only 3 stars for uneven writing.
A truly captivating series of essays by nurses about their profession. At times I had a hard time putting this book down.

To me, the most astonishing part was in the forward where the editor mentions that he can't remember any interactions with nurses, even after spending some time in the hospital. I was in the ER for a while, and I had two nurses, and both of them shaped my experience in different, yet equally important, ways. One was extremely present and comforting, while the other one was ne
Such a wonderful collection of essays from nurses. I wish there were more books like this. As a nursing student, hearing these stories made me swell with pride about my chosen profession. Truly recommend to anyone who likes listening to great stories, ESPECIALLY recommend to nurses and nursing students.
All in all, this is a pretty solid book and compelling read about what it takes to be a nurse. After reading this, I can tell that nursing is not the career for me, and I admire nurses all the more so for being able to handle all the trials and tribulations that they deal with on a daily basis. The title of the book nicely sums up the stories, which all generally feature high quality writing. Will this book ever be up for a literary award? Probably not. But it's definitely a good way to get a pe ...more
A really inspiring read. I don't think we realise how much nurses actually do. All the doctors are hailed as heroes and the nurses are often forgotten. Really helped me decide if I wanted to study nursing or not.
This book is a collection of stories written by nurses telling about their jobs and how they grew as a nurse (and a person) by doing their jobs. They are written by nurses in a variety of fields, including one nurse who moved to China and practice nursing in rural China. This book is funny and serious. Most of the nurses end up talking about death at some point, both those who deal with death every day, and those who work in fields were it's less common. I would recommend this to anybody who lik ...more
Basically Chicken Soup for the Nurse, and I've never enjoyed those books, although I know many who do. Admittedly, I only read three stories in, but couldn't see myself finishing it.
Marc Lais
A good collection of real life accounts of nurses, by nurses. I'm glad that I read it, as I am about to begin nursing school and it gave me a clearer idea of what I have to look forward to.
Ali Cooper
Decent nursing stories. Quicker than I expected. Not a very cohesive book but it gives a lot of different perspectives, which I guess is the point.
I absolutely love this book! I'm a nurse & I think this very accurately displays just SOME of the things we as nurses feel & think sometimes. There were many quotes & stories that I could relate to, even if it wasn't my particular field of nursing. I laughed in parts, while I shed tears in others. I would love to read this book again sometime. I will also be recommending this book to all my nursing friends.
Maureen Stanton
Some powerful individual pieces in this collection, among others that aren't well written. But I appreciate the voices in this important anthology. Most medical writing, or the literature of medicine, is written by doctors, and those doctors are mostly men, i.e.Atul Guwande, Richard Selzer, Abraham Verghese. Two women writers of medical narratives who are also doctors: Danielle Ofri and Lauren Slater. I love all those writers I just mentioned, but nurses spend so much more time with patients and ...more
Christy Petersen holloway
I enjoyed this series of essays. They haven't hid the dirty, nasty, sad side of nursing, but instead wrapped it into a clumsy, warm, loving tribute to their field. Certainly worth reading.
Becky Atkins
Some stories good, some not so good! Nice to hear stories about other fields of nursing! 271 pages...not 320
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review. A varied collection of short stories by nurses, moving, great read.
Judy Price
Great read, but probably only to nurses and medical field folks.
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Lee Gutkind has been recognized by Vanity Fair as “the godfather behind creative nonfiction.” A prolific writer, he has authored and edited over twenty-five books, and is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish only narrative nonfiction. Gutkind has received grants, honors, and awards from numerous organizations including the National Endow ...more
More about Lee Gutkind...
In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 1 You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction--from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 3 Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know about Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction

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“The other night, the cats were howling. I turned over and convinced myself to go back to sleep because they weren’t my patients.” 0 likes
“My idea of a good time is sitting quietly with my own thoughts and not making eye contact with anyone.” 0 likes
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