1. Carlson, Elizabeth Ann

Article Content

The two books discussed are Accelerate Your Career in Nursing: A Guide to Professional Advancement and Recognition by Janice Phillips and Janet M. Boivin and Creative Solutions to Enhance Nursing Quality by Bruce Alan Boxer and Ellen Boxer. I highly recommend the Phillips and Boivin book.


With the ongoing challenges facing healthcare, nurses are needed to meet the country's clinical, financial, technological, and ethical issues. The need for nurses to shape healthcare will require nurses to be in influential and powerful positions such as on boards of directors, leading healthcare systems, influencing policy, and using research and evidence to improve outcomes. For the next generation of nurses, to be an integral part of this requires a planned approach to be prepared and at the right place at the right time. How does a nurse document their accomplishments and use these accomplishments to advance healthcare and the profession? The authors and editors of Accelerate Your Career in Nursing: A Guide to Professional Advancement and Recognition by Janice Phillips and Janet M. Boivin, published by Sigma Theta Tau International in 2014 offer such a roadmap. The book is 123 pages and costs U.S.$29.95.


The editors indicate that one of the motivations behind this book are the reports from Institutes of Medicine and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation's Future of Nursing, which call for the transformation of nursing through advanced education, leadership, and nursing practiced at its highest levels. To this end, this book draws from the experience of more than 20 nurses at various stages of their careers. These nurses present how they have moved from novice to expert nurse and suggest structures and approaches you can use on your career path.


The book is structured in four groupings: developing and identifying your distinction of excellence, putting your best foot forward, expressing your best for the profession, and experts lead the charge. Each chapter within these groupings provides tips, tables, resources, and examples that elucidate the information offered. I particularly enjoyed reading the examples tilted "In Real Life" where the authors and others present an example from their "real life" that fleshes out the ideas and concepts discussed and, I think, make it easier to apply the material.


Within each grouping are chapters addressing specific aspects of the overall theme. Chapter 1 focuses upon knowing yourself and your values. The authors present why it is important to understand the role your personal values and experiences have on career development. Identifying what your areas of strength and areas to focus on for improvement provide the foundation from which to build your career. Numerous tools are listed that can assist you in self-reflection and systematically gathers input from others that can be used to reflect upon your approach and style of leadership, decision making, and communication. Some of these tools may be familiar to you but others may not and may be useful as you undergo self-evaluation. On pages 16-19, a self-knowledge/self-awareness series of reflections and practice can guide your thinking.


Chapter 2 walks the reader through the process of determining which professional organization best meets your personal career goals. A checklist on page 28 summarizes the key points and assists in decision making about which professional organization to participate in a systematic manner. Chapter 3, titled ""Let Your Light Shine: Portfolio Principles," addresses the difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume, when one is more appropriately used than the other, what to include in each and the advantages of developing a professional portfolio. Most nurses do not seek recognition thinking that their work will speak for itself. Chapter 4 begins with a discussion about why professional recognition for nurses is necessary and appropriate. The author discusses how to develop plans for professional recognition including how to identify the right award, develop a successful nomination, determine the right time to submit, and identify the right nominators. This is an excellent resource that explains how receiving recognition is integral to advancing your career.


The next section, putting your best foot forward, begins with a discussion of recommendations and the identification of potential recommenders for different professional opportunities. The etiquette surrounding asking for a recommendation and how to properly handle declined requests from potential recommenders is presented. Chapter 6 addresses crafting successful graduate school applications. This chapter is a must read for anyone considering or applying to graduate school. The application timeline, components, essay, and interview are discussed with an example of both an effective and ineffective essay. How to prepare for the interview are presented and examples of likely interview questions are posed. Possible questions for the applicant to ask are presented. A checklist is included with the key steps for applying to graduate school. Perhaps graduate is not in your plan or you have already attended graduate school, landing a fellowship or internship requires putting your best foot forward. The author steps the reader through the opportunities offered by fellowships or internships. Similar to the detailed suggestions and steps offered for graduate school applicants, the author discusses the differences between fellowships, internships, and residencies, what opportunities each offers, and how to best present yourself as an applicant. Both traditional and nontraditional resources for fellowships are offered.


Chapter 8 addresses how you can express your professional best. The author focuses on communication, specifically, why effective communication is important, what tools and tactics facilitate communication, the role of nonverbal communication, and the impact of social networking on communication. The use of appreciative inquiry as an approach to communication is discussed. The use of persuasive presentations as another mode of communication is mentioned. One area in which nurses must increase their involvement is advocating for the profession. Chapter 9 offers an overview of how nurses must actively advocate for the profession. Chapter 10 is a must read for all nurses regardless of how long they have been practicing as a nurse. This chapter illustrates how we as nurses need to "develop some professional swagger" (p. 140). Never say, "I'm just a nurse." Examples of how to reframe your introduction of yourself to others, patients included, are given and how this reframing increases the esteem and confidence held by the listener. This is another way in which nurses can advocate for their profession on a daily basis.


Chapter 11 presents the personal journeys of 2 leaders in nursing, Linda Burnes Bolton and Barbara Nichols, and serves as an excellent demonstration of the principles presented in the previous chapters. The book ends with an appendix that has resources for success and an index. It is an excellent book that offers excellent information in a readable and interesting manner. I highly recommend it.


Creative Solutions to Enhance Nursing Quality by Bruce Alan Boxer and Ellen Boxer Goldfarb was published in 2011 by Jones and Bartlett Learning, LLC. This book has 363 pages and costs U.S.$95.95. What initially drew me to this book was the idea that it offered examples of solutions to improve nursing quality. The introduction states, "This book is designed to provide instruction and ideas to better patient care and the hospital work environment. It is also designed to delineate the most crucial elements in achieving and sustaining any quality initiative" (p. xi). The brother and sister author team further describe the book as "a guidebook for tackling the initiation, implementation, and enculturation of principles in and components of the Magnet program, an evidence-based framework to promote nursing quality, through the application of creative solutions designed to facilitate the adoption of these Magnet principles and components.... We believe creative solutions can take the best of evidence-based practice, its proven efficacy, and overcome one of its main limitations, overlooking the need to individualize practice to institutional culture and patient need" (p. xii).


There are 10 chapters in this book and each chapter focuses on an aspect of the quality improvement process. This book is intended as a guidebook for the initiation, implementation, and enculturation of principles and components of the Magnet program. Within each chapter, content is presented that enables the reader to understand the key principles and activities underlying the concept. For example, Chapter 3 is about project development and implementation. Content on what is project management is presented first, along with the 5 stages of project management. A discussion of planning and the uses for a process map are presented. How to map a process and create the process map are then explained with an example of a process map. The usefulness of a pilot study is presented. The next section talks about project leadership and the difference between leadership and management. Delegation and how to delegate including accountability, training, and resources are discussed. Use of an action plan and steps for writing an action plan are reviewed as well as data collection and analysis. On page 90, an example of an action planning worksheet is given. Two examples of creative solutions are given that use the project planning approach. A legend is used to indicate the amount of financial, time, personnel, and other resources required for each example. This similar approach is used for all chapters except the last one. Chapter 10 tells the reader how to begin the Magnet journey.


Overall, I do not recommend this book. Although the writing style is accessible, I frequently found myself needing to reread the entire chapter to understand how the creative solution examples given exemplified the content presented. In addition, the authors indicated that they will take the reader through the process of quality improvement. I found it confusing that the authors inserted "Magnet journey" or "Magnet designation" into the text at particular points when the content could stand on its own without the reference to "Magnet." I feel that the authors tried to cover too many areas so as to increase the type of individual who may be interested in the content.


Therefore, I strongly recommend the first book reviewed on the basis of the quality of the content provided and ease of reading. The Boxer and Goldfarb book is not recommended for your use on the basis of the relationship between its stated purpose and the manner in which materials and examples are presented.