Best Books for Nurses: How Books Can Boost Your Career and Well-Being

May 3, 2024
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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As a nurse, you know the strain of long shifts and the emotional labor involved in our profession. Your downtime offers a perfect opportunity to recharge, and what better way to do so than by losing yourself in a good book? 

This month, we invite you to kick back with our handpicked selection of tales celebrating the dedication and personal triumphs in nursing — a well-deserved retreat for those who spend their days caring for others.

Why Reading Matters for Nurses

  • Stress Relief: Engaging with a good book can significantly lower stress levels, offering an escape from the routine pressures of nursing.
  • Empathy and Insight: Literature about nursing or caregiving can enhance empathy, providing new perspectives on patient care and personal interactions.
  • Professional Inspiration: Stories of triumph and dedication in the healthcare field can reignite your passion for nursing and remind you of the reasons you chose this career path.

14 Must Read Books for Nurses

  1. Emotional Intelligence by Travis Bradberry: This book highlights the importance of emotional intelligence (or EQ) and offers practical tips on understanding your own emotions and those of others, which is crucial for building strong patient and coworker relationships in our field.
  2. Taking Care: The Story of Nursing and Its Power to Change Our World by Sarah DiGregorio: Sarah DiGregorio celebrates the impactful role of nursing throughout history with inspiring stories and research. It’s an excellent read for understanding how our profession shapes global health care.
  3. Pediatric Nursing Made Incredibly Easy by Mikki Meadows-Oliver: Perfect for those in pediatric nursing, this book simplifies complex procedures and concepts. It's like having a knowledgeable friend explain the intricacies of pediatric care in a straightforward way.
  4. The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives by Theresa Brown: Theresa Brown offers an intimate peek into the realities of a 12-hour shift. Her experiences reflect our work's emotional and critical nature, making it a relatable read for any nurse.
  5. Healing Children: A Surgeon’s Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine by Kurt Newman: Kurt Newman shares moving stories from his experiences as a pediatric surgeon. These stories are insightful for understanding the specialized care required for children and their resilience in the face of illness.
  6. When Breath Becomes Air By Paul Kalanithi: A profound exploration of life and death.
    • Philosophical depth: A neurosurgeon’s reflection on his terminal illness and the essence of life.
    • Inspiration for care: Understand the impact of empathy and personal connection in patient care.
  7. Nursing Ethics: Across The Curriculum And Into Practice By Janie B. Butts And Karen L. Rich: Foundational ethics for everyday decisions.
    • Ethical challenges: Equip yourself with the principles needed to face complex moral dilemmas in nursing.
    • Application-driven: Examples and case studies to apply ethics in practical scenarios.
  8. Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, And Everything In Between By Theresa Brown: Insights into critical care nursing.
    • Career preparation: Get a glimpse into the high-stakes environment of critical care.
    • Personal growth: Learn about the resilience needed to thrive in intense medical situations.
  9. Becoming Nursey: From Code Blues To Code Browns, How To Care For Your Patients And Yourself By Kati Kleber: A guide for the early years of nursing.
    • Practical tips: From handling stress to managing time, find ways to make your early years in nursing rewarding.
    • Self-care strategies: Learn the importance of looking after yourself while caring for others.
  10. The Nurse Leader Handbook: The Art And Science Of Nurse Leadership By Studer Group: Developing leadership skills.
    • Leadership principles: Understand what it takes to be a leader in the nursing field.
    • Team management: Effective strategies for managing and inspiring your healthcare team.
  11. I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started: True Stories Of Becoming A Nurse Edited By Lee Gutkind: Personal stories of growth and perseverance.
    1. Diverse perspectives: Read about the challenges and victories of many nursing professionals.
    2. Motivational: Find encouragement and motivation in the shared journeys of others.
  12. The Language Of Kindness: A Nurse's Story By Christie Watson: The power of compassion in nursing.
    • Narrative storytelling: A beautifully written reminder of why compassion is central to nursing.
    • Career reflection: Reflect on the profound impact that nurses have on the lives of their patients.
  13. Hello! My Name Is Max And I Have Autism: An Insight Into The Autistic Mind By Max Miller: Understanding patients with autism.
    • Patient perspective: Gain insight into the mind of an autistic patient to improve care and communication.
    • Inclusive care: Learn strategies for making your practice more inclusive for patients with special needs.
  14. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect Science By Atul Gawande: The complexities of medicine.
    • Medical realities: Explore the less-discussed complexities and uncertainties of practicing medicine.
    • Thought-provoking: Challenge your perceptions and improve your approach to patient care.

Incorporating Reading into Your Routine

Making Time to Read

  • Set Attainable Goals: Start with as little as 20 minutes of reading daily, perhaps during a break or before bed.
  • Create a Relaxing Environment: Make your reading space inviting with comfortable seating, good lighting, and minimal distractions.
  • Join a Book Club: To engage with fellow nurses, join a book club focused on healthcare-related literature or personal development.

Benefits of Reading Outdoors

  • Vitamin D Boost: Reading outside can increase vitamin D levels, improving mood and overall health.
  • Enhanced Relaxation: Natural settings can improve the relaxing effects of reading, making it a perfect summer activity.

Nurturing Your Professional Growth

Continued Education Through Literature

  • Professional Development: Books covering recent medical research or healthcare strategies can keep you updated on industry trends and best practices.
  • Personal Growth: Inspirational books can provide motivation and tools for self-improvement, both personally and professionally.

Leveraging Stories in Patient Care

  • Enhanced Patient Relationships: Sharing stories or book recommendations can help build stronger connections with patients and their families.
  • Teaching Through Tales: Use narratives from your readings to educate patients and families about health, recovery, and resilience.

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