I made a big decision this week, the decision not to pursue a career in nursing and instead refocus on achieving a PhD. For some reason, the day after I had made this decision, I picked this up and began to read. It reminded me of the good things I have experienced in my brief stint as a healthcare assistant, but also ultimately reminded me that I made the right decision.
Jimmy Frazier is a middle-aged, divorced man when he decides to begin to train as a nurse. Originally, he starts to train as a children's nurse, but switches to mental health nursing. It is an honest, insightful look at the three year journey to become a nurse, and about some of the trials and tribulations staff at the NHS face on a daily basis.
The thing about books about the NHS is that there is always complaining. Complaining about new rules, the government, paperwork, the working hours, etc etc. Authors writing about our healthcare system always feel the need to throw in their two pence. Sometimes, this can come across as sanctimonious or just plain irritating, but I didn't find that as much with Frazier's rants. Possibly because they always had a context in the story he was telling at the time, and didn't seem tacked on or unnecessary.
One criticism I have for the book is that it went too fast. The placements on wards and elsewhere seemed to fly by; I wanted to know more about the patients and about the activities that Jimmy undertook, not the long philosophical conversations he had over a pint with his friends.
Whilst the writing was simple and not too technically complicated, there was one phrase that stood out to me as a particularly good piece of literary imagery: 'Outside it was hailing - bits of shattered sky playing tunes on the window.' I don't know why, but I really like that metaphor. :)
Another thing I really liked about Nurse! Nurse!
was the honesty. Sometimes Frazier struggled, messed up and judged people before even talking to them. But he didn't shy away from that fact. He was honest, and it was nice to see him acknowledging his humanity, and that he could make mistakes and feel scared as hell. We all can.
All in all, if you're thinking of a career in nursing, have a family member or friend currently training, or are just interested in what training would involve, this book is quite a good place to start. It doesn't tell you everything, and it's not the most amazing book in the world, but it's an enjoyable, quick read.