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Publisher's Summary

In a book as eye-opening as it is riveting, practicing nurse and New York Times columnist Theresa Brown invites us to experience not just a day in the life of a nurse but all the life that happens in just one day in a hospital's cancer ward. In the span of 12 hours, lives can be lost, life-altering medical treatment decisions made, and dreams fulfilled or irrevocably stolen. In Brown's skilled hands - as both a dedicated nurse and an insightful chronicler of events - we are given an unprecedented view into the individual struggles as well as the larger truths about medicine in this country. By shift's end we have witnessed something profound about hope, healing, and humanity.

Every day Theresa Brown holds patients' lives in her hands. On this day there are four: Mr. Hampton, a patient with lymphoma to whom Brown is charged with administering a powerful drug that could cure him - or kill him; Sheila, who may have been dangerously misdiagnosed; Candace, a returning patient who arrives (perhaps advisedly) with her own disinfectant wipes, cleansing rituals, and demands; and Dorothy, who, after six weeks in the hospital, may finally go home. Prioritizing and ministering to their needs takes the kind of skill, sensitivity, and, yes, humor that enable a nurse to be a patient's most ardent advocate in a medical system marked by heartbreaking dysfunction as well as miraculous success.

©2015 Theresa Brown (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Marsha
  • Tierra Verde, FL, United States
  • 03-14-17

A really good story, not really a fascinating one.

Being a nurse, there were a lot of things I loved. I thought she described our work schedules and our camaraderie very well. Anyone who has ever mis- counted on a narcotic count though, will realize she was absolutely foolish to think she could leave with an incorrect narcotic count. I kept waiting for that other shoe to drop. The other thing that was missed in editing had to do with the performance. While someone carefully taught the professional reader how to let words like heparin induced thrombocytopenia, and disseminated interstitial coagulopathy, roll off her tongue. Someone forgot to tell her that blood types do not come in "A plus" or "O minus," but in "A positive " and "O negative." Other than that the reader sounded very professional.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • San Dimas, CA, United States
  • 03-07-17

Appreciation

I listened to this book having absolutely no medical knowledge, except that of a patient and wife of a patient. I have always admired RNs but now value their hard work and caring ways even more. True not all nurses are like the author, but from my personal experience, the great majority are like Teresa Brown. It was interesting to hear just how a hospital nurse feels and deals with a busy day. Travia Gilbert did a fine job with the narration.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Fabulous Book

Thank you Teresa Brown. And thank you Tavia Gilbert for your wonderful narration. Having been chronically ill for the last 8 years of my life, in and out of hospital, this helps me understand my treatment from the nurses' perspective. Very eye-opening and it confirmed what I always thought; that 12 hour shifts are too much for the nurses, interns, physicians, surgeons, etc, who are very often sleep deprived. Kudos to all of you in the medical field! Thank you for what you do!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Health care as literature

I will begin this review by noting that this book is a work of nonfiction that reads like exceptional literature. It is not surprising to learn that Ms. Brown has a PhD in literature in addition to an RN degree.

I loved - no, more than loved - this book. It is an amazing account of one nurse's (the author) 12 hour shift on a hospital oncology unit. The book is beautiful in her compassion, candid in the nature of nursing, breathtaking in intensity, and not - contrary to what one might expect - filled with medical gore. I was so wrapped up in these 12 hours and how the author presents them, that the treatment aspect was interesting, informative and sometimes very sad.

This is a magnificent read. If one is at all interested in health care, its successes, challenges, failures and sheer unadulterated milk-of-human-kindness present as nurses "push the rock of healthcare up the hill," this is a must read work of staggering beauty, hope, determination, coping strategies and so much more.

The Shift is on my top 10 list of books that transcend description. One simply has to make the journey with Ms. Brown while she shows readers that there are remarkable professionals in hospitals who live for the good they do for their patients.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 03-01-17

Attempting Infinity Over 12 Hours--

and not quite making it. "The Shift" is a really good listen if you're interested in the reality of an oncology nurse's day. There's a schedule that can never be adhered to because there's always something of greater import that absolutely needs to be done. There's the lack of lunch breaks and grabbing sustenance in just a few saltines. There's the odd dance between doctors and nurses. There are patient's families whose wants are to be considered almost as much as the patient's wishes.
And there is, dad blast it: the ever-ringing phone.
There's not really much in the way of questioning life, its import, the odd chances that befall us willy-nilly until the very end. So, while there's plenty of action (how anyone can manage that day in, day out, is beyond me!), there's not too much depth.
But I did wind up caring about the patients, and I certainly wound up respecting the heck out of Theresa Brown.
All in all, a good listen if you want to get a sense of "a chaotic day in the life of" an extremely competent and empathetic individual. At just over 7 hours, it's not going to take up too much of your time, and it's quite a ride!

24 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 08-04-17

I tried to stay interested, but couldn't

I was very interested in this topic, with my wife being a nurse. We were excited to listen to this together. I was expecting to get to know this nurse's patients (and diseases), but it fell short on that end, and became somewhat repetitive. I was more interested in the author as a person, but her life that one day in the hospital fell a bit flat to me. I made it halfway through this before giving up. This book did give me a greater appreciation of what nurses do and how demanding their job is, but there was not enough in one day of nursing to keep my interest. My nurse wife was no more engaged than I was.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • DFW
  • South MS
  • 03-25-17

New Respect for Nurses

Never realized just how much goes on in a hospital. This book was fascinating and shows how very busy this dedicated nurse is to her patients. I wish everyone in the medical field were as competent and reliable as Theresa Brown.

This book reminds me a bit of A Day in the Live of Ivan Denisovich. It is an entire book base on one day in the life of. Amazing.

Worth a credit or the money to hear how it is from the nurses viewpoint instead of the patients.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Perspective

We are all going to have to go in the hospital or have friends or family that will. This gives an insight from a nurse's perspective.
This doesn't work with any other occupation I don't think. But it works here.
It's well written and shows an honest perspective from those who do the most to personally care for those in the hospital.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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being a Healthcare chaplain, this added insight to

my work and the nurses I work with. I try to always be mindful of their needs when I visit their patients.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved, loved this realistic story!

Being a retired nurse I found this book to be so honestly realistic. I have worked 12 hour shifts too and I'm very happy to not have to work them anymore. Right now I'm 70 years old and still a nurse out in the community screening B/P and B/S and flu shots. Working maybe 6 hours a week. Back in the day we had no computers and I think it made my job easier than T's. Thank you Theresa for making me so proud of my profession. You are amazing !

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • cameron.hoare
  • 05-31-17

an interesting take into the female nursing mind

i loved this story. well told it is interesting to hear how the female mind thinks.