Life Support: Three Nurses on the Front Lines
A beautiful, profound, and profoundly important book.... Gordon's message is simplicity itself: sick people need skilled, humane, and insightful care that keeps their interests paramount. Registered nurses have historically provided that care, but now their ability to fulfill their crucial role faces the greatest jeopardy in the history of the profession.... Life Support belongs in the august company of Silent Spring, The Other America, The Feminine Mystique, and other pivotal works with the power to shape the nation's consciousness.--Washington Post In this enlightening, involving, in-depth book, Gordon interweaves the history and philosophy of nursing with on-the-job observations of three nurses at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital. Gordon lets the nurses speak for themselves, effectively illustrating their commitment to their profession and involving readers in real-life dramas.--Publishers Weekly For patients, physicians, nurses, and health policy analysts, Gordon's passionate and accessible account of the impact of managed care on skilled nursing provides clear grounds for concern.--Health Affairs In this book, Suzanne Gordon describes the everyday work of three RNs in Boston--a nurse practitioner, an oncology nurse, and a clinical nurse specialist on a medical unit. At a time when nursing is often undervalued and nurses themselves in short supply, Life Support provides a vivid, engaging, and intimate portrait of health care's largest profession and the important role it plays in patients' lives. Life Support is essential reading for working nurses, nursing students, and anyone considering a career in nursing as well as for physicians and health policy makers seeking a better understanding of what nurses do and why we need them. For the Cornell edition of this landmark work, Gordon has written a new introduction that describes the current nursing crisis and its impact on bedside nurses like those she profiled in the book.
From the Back Cover Life Support offers an intimate and important look at what nurses do for patients and their families. It takes us right to the bedside on hospital wards and home visits, in clinics and emergency rooms, capturing the drama of nurses' work in the story of three RNs at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital. Gordon's heroines are nurse practitioner Ellen Kitchen, who bicycles through poor neighborhoods in Boston to visit elderly patients at home; oncology nurse Nancy Rumplik, whose technical skill and emotional support enable cancer patients to endure some of the most arduous high-tech medical treatments; and clinical nurse specialist Jeannie Chaisson, who helps new RNs and physicians begin their careers on a general medical floor. Life Support draws on the experience of these and other nurses to examine the history of their profession, the complex relationship between doctors and nurses, and the central role that nurses play in the final days of life, when care, not cure, is a patient's main concern. In addition, the book makes a powerful critique of hospital restructuring and managed care. Gordon shows how understaffing, shorter hospital stays, layoffs, and replacement of nurses by unlicensed personnel are threatening the quality of care and shifting more of its burden onto patients' families. She describes what consumers can do to resist these trends - through alliances with concerned providers.