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JCN reviews and briefs books and other media resources as a service to our readers. We do not sell or profit financially from these books. Prices quoted are the original publisher's price. Book Briefs are short synopses based on the publisher's descriptions. Websites were current and evaluated at the time of publication.




Freedom From Your Hurts, Hang-Ups, And Habits

By John F. Baker 288 pp., New York, NY: Howard, 2007, $19.99, hardcover.


Brief: In Life's Healing Choices, John Baker, founder of Celebrate Recovery, relays eight concrete, well-explained choices as the foundation for true happiness-if we will chose happiness. Happiness is based on eight statements from God's Word, and from the most revered Teacher of all time, Jesus Christ. In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), Jesus shares eight statements that reveal God's pathway to wholeness, growth, spiritual maturity, and happiness. These statements are the basis for the eight tried-and-proved choices outlined in Life's Healing Choices:


1. Admitting Need-The Reality Step


2. Getting Help-The Hope Step


3. Letting Go-The Commitment Step


4. Coming Clean-The Housecleaning Step


5. Making Changes-The Transformation Step


6. Repairing Relationships-The Relationship Step


7. Maintaining Momentum-The Maintenance Step


8. Recycling Pain-The Sharing Step



Baker emphasizes personal responsibility, how to face up to poor choices, distinguish between what is in our control and what is not, and then be equipped to make new choices and take control where we can. Spiritual commitment is fostered and action steps are detailed. Companion resources include a Guided Journal and Small Group Study guide. Also available in Spanish and as an audio download, CD, and eBook.




Leading Change, Advancing Health

Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the Institute of Medicine 671 pp. (full report, report brief, 4 pp.), Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2010, $49.95, hardcover; PDF book free for download at

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Review: The Future of Nursing report, released October 2010, culminated a 2-year effort by a multidisciplinary task force of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine to study how nurses could impact and improve America's healthcare system. Our nations' 3 million nurses comprise the largest component of America's healthcare workforce. This fact, combined with the realization that nurses work on the frontlines of patient care in multiple settings, means nurses can impact quality and access to care and patient outcomes. Approval of the 2010 Affordable Care Act legislation created greater urgency to better utilize nurses.


However, a number of barriers prevent nurses from being able to improve healthcare. Practice, education, leadership, interdisciplinary, and system barriers need to be overcome to allow nurses to "lead change and advance health" (IOM Web site). This report details how the barriers can be removed and how nursing can rise to meet growing healthcare needs and demands. The report has been referred to as an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing, with four key messages about practice, education, collaboration, and workforce data; eight recommendations; and numerous specific ideas for implementation (see Schoonover-Shoffner, p. 71).


The report notes that the power to improve healthcare does not rest solely with nurses, pointing out that government, academia, healthcare organizations, business, medicine, philanthropy, professional associations, and the insurance industry all must take part in implementing the report recommendations and changing the system. "Working together, these many diverse parties can help ensure that the health care system provides seamless, affordable, quality care that is accessible to all and leads to improved health outcomes" (IOM Web site).


A 671-page report probably sounds daunting. However, the full report is an excellent resource for nurses to have at their fingertips as a reference for making changes in their workplace. The shorter four-page brief is a must read for all nurses at all levels. When you read it, the Future of Nursing will make you stand up and cheer!-KSS



Spiritual Assessment In Healthcare Practice

By Wilfred McSherry and Linda Ross (Editors) 190 pp., Keswick, Cumbria, UK: M&K Publishing, 2010, [pounds]27.00 ($42.00), paperback.

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Review: McSherry, a nurse and professor in Dignity of Care for Older People at Staffordshire University and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital National Health Service Trust in the United Kingdom, and Ross, also a nurse and senior lecturer in the Department of Care Science at the University of Glamorgan, Wales, pulled together experts in nursing, medicine, theology, and chaplaincy in the UK, USA, and Malta to write this resource. Although the authors draw heavily from nursing, it is written for all healthcare professionals who want to incorporate spirituality and spiritual care into their practice.


The contributors to Spiritual Assessment take broad, global, all-inclusive approaches to spirituality; many acknowledge the myriad competing theories about the nature of spirituality and spiritual needs. John Swinton, a theologian contributor, explains spirituality can be approached from generic (meaning and purpose), biological (brains are hard-wired for religious and spiritual experiences), and religious (transcendental, experiential) perspectives. McSherry offers a broad definition of spiritual assessment: "... it is an attempt to enquire positively and unobtrusively with a patient/client or his or her carer into areas of life that are associated with their health and well-being. It is more than just an enquiry into physical health. It is an exploration of the person's psychosocial and spiritual functioning" (p. 61). McSherry goes on to explain spiritual assessment can be related to religion or meaning and purpose, and can be undertaken formally or informally, but any assessment should be adaptable, nonintrusive, and inclusive. Multiple approaches to spiritual assessment and many tools are explored throughout the book. All authors offer a strong case that spirituality must be incorporated into care if we are to provide patient-centered, holistic, optimal care.


A lot of questions are raised, such as who is qualified to do spiritual assessment, and/or to offer subsequent spiritual support. Aru Narayanasamy, a nurse educator and widely recognized spiritual and cultural diversity expert, states, "My view is that at the least healthcare practitioners should be sensitive to the spiritual needs of their patients... However, only those who have undertaken additional professional development in the rudiments of spiritual care should provide spiritual support.... a highly skilful activity" (p. 52). Many of the authors concur and suggest providers meet certain levels of spiritual training before they engage in spiritual assessment and care. McSherry and Ross acknowledge that although much has happened in the last 10 to 20 years in bringing spiritual care to the forefront, little evidence supports much change in practice except in palliative care.


The title may suggest a practical resource for care, as in, go pull an assessment tool from the book to use with patients. However, this is a scholarly endeavor that takes careful reading and digestion (on which I'm still working). So who should read this book? If you think you have spiritual care figured out, you really need to examine this content. Christian students and nurses, especially graduate students and nurse educators, will want to explore the implication of the book for day-to-day practice. Spiritual Assessment opens your thinking to different understandings about spirituality, but not in an "all paths lead to God/anything goes" way. For me, much of the content rings true from a biblical understanding of what it means to be made in the image of God-for meaning and purpose, hard-wired to be in relationship with God, and finding greater spirituality through my religious experience.-KSS




Implementing FCN/Parish Nursing In A Nutshell

By Janet Hickman 224 pp., New York, NY: Springer, 2011, $25.00, paperback.

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Review: Part of Springer's "Fast Facts" series, Hickman has developed a great resource for nurses practicing in a faith community or who want to implement a program. The pocket-sized book is convenient to use with bulleted lists and "Fast Facts in A Nutshell." Hickman discusses content in three parts: (1) Foundations; (2) Assessing, Implementing, and Evaluating in Faith Community Ministries; and (3) Meeting Diverse Community Needs. Clear objectives are provided for each chapter; "Fast Facts" highlight helpful information such as Elements for a Successful FCN Program or resources available to FCNs. Figures and Tables summarize and add to the content.


Hickman covers everything from the history and development of modern-day parish nursing, to concepts of health and FCN practice in Judeo-Christian, Hebrew, Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu congregations. She provides an assortment of models to pull from for FCN practice, along with documentation and assessment tools. Chapters include the legalities and ethics of practicing faith community nursing, budgeting, teaching, and special topics such as death and dying, mental illness, domestic violence, and working with vulnerable populations. Even an appendix of National Health Observances is included.


This is an easy-to-use tool offering quick access to good information and insights for FCN practice. Hickman soundly bases her book on the Health Ministries Association and American Nurses Association Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. I was delighted to find numerous references throughout to JCN articles and authors. Fast Facts for the Faith Community Nurse would be good to include in your repertoire of resources for nursing in the church.-KSS