1. Carlson, Elizabeth A.

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Three books from Sigma Theta Tau International publishing are reviewed. They are a disparate collection, but each offers worthwhile and useable information. I recommend all three books.


Four Seasons of Grieving: A Nurse's Healing Journey With Nature by A. Lynne Wagner was published in 2015 by Sigma Theta Tau International, has 81 pages, and costs U.S.$19.95. A friend of mine who is a nurse brought this book to my attention. She had lost a family member and received this book from a fellow nurse. She indicated that this book was very helpful to her as she grieves and works with families and patients facing loss. In the Foreword, Jean Watson states, "This book is a special healing present for anyone experiencing any loss of life. Health care providers, especially nurses, who daily care for others experiencing loss of heal and loved ones, will find it particularly meaningful" (p. XII). Wagner used her own healing journey over a year's time she identified with Watson's four human heart-centered, developmental tasks of healing: surrendering, forgiveness, gratitude, and receiving and giving compassionate service. Wagner blended these concepts with the four seasons, her reflections, and an artist's renderings in this book.


Wagner's book begins with winter and surrender. Wagner describes the chaos that fills your mind, body, and spirit as the loss and grief changes the course of your life. Spring and forgiveness reflect how the greening and warming of the days lessens the acute winter grief of disbelief while still embodying the sorrow of loss. In summer, Wagner describes her grief as "often invisible to others" (p. 40). The summer heat allowed growth and light and gratitude for the season's beauty. Autumn was the time in her healing that she could talk about her grief in spite of her persistent sadness. Her suffering brought her a compassion that she was able to share with others in their grief.


At first, I approached reading this book as I would any other book and found it confused me more than helped me. Then I realized that it is not a book to be read but slowly sampled on the basis of the reader's need. Each chapter uses nature, and an artist's depiction of a tree, reflecting the season. Short narratives probing an aspect of the phase of grief are followed by various devices that allow the reader to pause and reflect. Reflective Pause, Nurses Corner and poetry or quotes are numerous and fitting to the reflection offered. Each chapter ends with Reflective Questions that help the reader ponder and incorporate the ideas presented. The author also introduces how nurses who have experienced loss and grief can help patients and families as they move through these seasons. On page 65, the author has her poetic summary of her "Journey of Grief-Healing." Appendix A is a summary of Watson's Holistic Caring Philosophy and Appendix B offers Resources on Caring Theory and Practice for further pursuit of the concepts presented.


This book is specifically for people experiencing grief and loss. It may be the type of book to have available in a unit's patient library or resource center for those individuals needing a guided way to address their loss and grief. I think it offers a gentle guide for those grieving and thus recommend it.


A quote credited to Maya Angelou succinctly offers the premise of the second book, "When you know better, you do better" (p. XIV). Cultural Sensibility in Healthcare: A Personal & Professional Guidebook by Sally N. Ellis Fletcher is 152 pages in length including an index, costs U.S.$34.9, and is published by Sigma Theta Tau International. This book caught my eye because of its use of cultural sensibility versus the more commonly seen terms of cultural expertise or cultural sensitivity. The author states that this term was selected because of its "broader perspective that implies an action toward openness" (p. XIII). Thus, this book leads the reader through a self-reflective process that encourages the reader to consider their attitudes, biases, beliefs, and prejudices and the opportunity to accept or change these areas. The target audience is a nurse or nursing student who is interested in cultural diversity, inclusion, and culturally appropriate healthcare. The author suggests that schools of nursing with low diversity faculty/students might use this book as a way to see healthcare from a wider perspective.


Fletcher uses a mix of narrative, examples, activities, author's notes, discussion questions, and an occasional reality check moment as a way to keep the reader engaged and learning about themselves. There are seven chapters, each ending with a reference list. The chapter titles are descriptive of the chapter content and include Cultural Sensibility: Personal and Professional (Chapter 1); Common Ground: Terms and Definitions (Chapter 2); Lessening the Impact of Cultural Clashes (Chapter 3); Healthcare Disparities: They Affect Us All (Chapter 4); Bracketing, Critical Thinking, and Reflection-in-Action (Chapter 5); Yes, We're Alike, But the Differences Matter (Chapter 6), and the Epilogue (Chapter 7).


Let me highlight a few chapters. In Chapter 3, "Lessening the Impact of Cultural Clashes," Fletcher presents a series of scenarios describing cultural clashes and uses these scenarios and Hall's Cultural Iceberg Model to examine conscious and unconscious behaviors, including traditions, customs, core values, and assumptions, among other aspects of the model. She presents exercises that enable the reader to examine the issues and work toward appropriate responses. The next chapter, "Healthcare Disparities: They Affect Us All," is a great 13-page discussion of healthcare disparities and how they affect equity in care. One activity on page 92 asks the reader to consider living on the wages/budget of a low-wage earner. This activity is very eye-opening. Chapter 5 helps the reader determine their biases, prejudices, and stereotypes. Several activities lead the reader to a section on critical thinking and reflection-in-action and bracket our biases, prejudices, and stereotypes (BPS), or as the author states... "exercise the mental muscles necessary to acquire/enhance [the] skills" BPS do not impact the delivery or quality of care.


As stated in the Epilogue, "cultural sensibility is a deliberate proactive behavior we use in both our professional and personal interactions" (p. 133). The Fletcher book walks the reader through the process of moving toward cultural sensibility. It is a good book to begin the process and offers resources to delve deeper into the content via the references at the end of each chapter. I recommend this book as a good resource and an excellent way to get the conversation going about cultural sensibility.


One of the things I do for leisure is read through books on etiquette and this final book reviewed is etiquette for the nurse: The Nurse's Etiquette Advantage: How Professional Etiquette Can Advance Your Nursing Career (2nd edition) by Kathleen D. Pagana. It is published by Sigma Theta Tau International in 2015, has 315 pages, and costs U.S.$34.95. I enjoyed reading this book and thought it gave many very practical suggestions. What this book highlights is how your actions in social and professional situations influence the opinion of those around you. This theme is the same in any etiquette book, but this book focuses on professional situations including travel and serving as the host that as nurses assume leadership positions are increasingly common events. The book has 12 chapters, a Test Your Knowledge section with answers, references, and an index. Each chapter is structured in a series of questions and answers as the manner of delivering the content. There is a series of Do you... questions and answers, tips, Faux Pas, and Good Idea!, tables and figures to itemize and illustrate concrete information, a globe marking cultural items, Frequently Asked Questions, and Take Away Tips.


I frequently have trouble remembering names and Pagana begins the book with the proper and polite way to ask for someone's name you have forgotten. This chapter continues with all you need to know about "Making Your Acquaintance." Chapter 2 discusses starting a conversation and networking. Chapters 3 and 4 review professional dress and interviewing. Chapter 5 offers useable tips on running successful and productive meetings. Chapters 6 and 7 address the use of technology and social media. How to "mingle among the cocktail set" is the focus of Chapter 8, with Chapter 9 reviewing business dining etiquette. Business correspondence is discussed in Chapter 10. The book concludes with two excellent chapters on business travel locally and globally. The last section of quiz questions is both educational and entertaining.....oops, I need to ask before I write on the back of someone's business card.


Although these three books are quite different one from the other, I recommend them all as excellent resources. Each addresses disparate topics but is well-written and useful based upon the situation.