Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reflections on Doctors Reviewed in the NY Times

Reflections on Doctors, the recently-published book of non-fiction by nurses for which I was one of many contributors, has been reviewed for the New York Times by Dr. Abigail Zuger, M.D.

While Dr. Zuger is admittedly underwhelmed by the lack of "literary style" demonstrated by the book's contributors, she states that "each story represents a step in understanding the inherent differences that separate the professions".

Even as the reviewer points out that the relationships described would not elicit "a minute of good television" (an assertion which I reject out of hand), and that the authors "write in shades of gray, describing interactions and relationships that are colorless, courteous, [and] businesslike", the Dr. Zuger seems to conclude that good, thoughtful medical care is, on balance, the end result of nurses' thoughtful reflections on the care that they and their medical colleagues provide.

In the course of her review, Dr. Zuger does indeed bemoan the fact that "no doctor out there is planning to publish a manuscript entitled 'Reflections on Nurses' any time soon", stating that "I am assuming my colleagues concur that such a project would be best left for retirement incommunicado somewhere on a distant Pacific atoll, where the mailman never calls." Sadly, this statement belies the fact that many doctors simply do not take the time to consider the crucial role that nurses play in the delivery of medical care, or, as the reviewer asserts, are potentially concerned that angry letters would ensue whether praise or criticism were duly proffered.

As a nurse blogger, I can attest that some of the best interdisciplinary writing does indeed occur in the medical/nursing blogosphere, and perhaps it is in that venue where the one-way conversation begun in "Reflections on Doctors" can be openly and honestly continued.

However, I can attest that "Reflections on Doctors" is one more step in further elucidating the multifaceted relationships between nurses, doctors and surgeons. Such literary excursions can only serve to inform the public, empower nurses and doctors to communicate, and to open additional avenues for future discussion.
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