1. Lindquist, Ruth PhD, RN, APRN-BC, FAAN

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Sioban Nelson and Suzanne Gordon, eds. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006. Paper $18.95. ISBN 978-0-8014-7322-7; Cloth $49.95. ISBN: 978-0-8014-4505-7. 224 pp.


This provocative book takes a hard look at nursing and challenges the popular notion that nursing is simply caring and emotional work. Although nursing is rated as the most trustworthy profession in public polls, this text identifies problems with the "virtue script." Nurses' essential contributions to the care of the public are said to be undervalued and invisible. It is argued that the life-saving work of nursing is undermined by the caring image, and the knowledge and clinical skills are undervalued by nurses themselves. The book examines the "recycled stereotypes" of nursing that no longer serve the profession well. The writers urge a rethinking of nursing through vivid and inciting essays on contemporary nursing that challenge the status quo and build a case for change. Trivialization of nursing in the sentimental caring image is pitted against the critical role of nurses as knowledge workers whose work saves lives.


The book is not an easy or pleasant read and may engender anger at the indictment of the current caring image of nursing. The book is well written; however, in some essays, the reading is difficult. The writings have relevance to all practicing nurses, undergraduate and graduate students, nurse educators, and healthcare administrators. The public, policy makers, and those marketing nursing and recruiting nurses would also find this book of interest. The book could be used as the focus of unit-based journal clubs, in academic courses, and career counseling. Each chapter is complete, but the book, taken as a whole, is a compelling call to action to rethink the profession of nursing, the nature of the work, and how nursing ought to be described and portrayed to strengthen and build the profession. The book is sure to capture your attention and make you mad and angry at the editors and authors. However, truths in their viewpoints become poignant indictments of the prevailing simplistic caring images portrayed in the media-and by nurses-about the work of nurses. The book will challenge all readers to rethink their own views and values related to the work, roles, and profession of nursing.