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So, last time, I promised more posts about our river tour along the Danube, Main, and Rhine rivers. Well, internet remained sketchy, so I wasn’t able to. More about the trip later, though.

Now, back in my regular retired life in Chicago, I am pleased to present this review of a book written by nurse, author, and New York Times blogger Theresa Brown. The review mentions the “cognitive multitasking” that nurses do, when bystanders may think nurses are kind of just there in the background.

Working a Shift with Theresa Brown gets at what my friend Marianna Crane and I aimed to do when we wrote our nursing memoirs. To show not only what nurses do, but how they think. What goes into their decision-making to choose nursing as a profession, their clinical specialty (child health, adult health, mental health, and more), their role (bedside nurse, teacher, nurse practitioner, administrator, researcher and more), and then what is required of them as they fulfill their roles.

In addition to career decisions, working a day as a nurse is all about “cognitive multitasking.” Think of a ball juggler with the balls as thoughts flying up, down, and all around.  Nurses are constantly multitasking their thoughts as they assess their patients or tasks at hand, analyze the data they are always gathering, plan appropriate interventions or actions based on those data, and evaluate the outcomes of their interventions or actions. And retool when necessary, while also needing to rearrange priorities in an instant.

Some days, I’m so proud of us I could burst. Like on the elevator in my building yesterday. Two young women were talking. One was telling the other, “I just have to finish two more clinicals and then I think I’ll decide to go med-surg.” Her words tumbled out, her face was flushed, her smile wide.

The door opened just then, and as I got off, I said, “Nursing?”

She said, “Yes,” with surprise, as if How did you know?

Puffed with pride, I swung back happy words to her, “I’m a nurse. Go for it. It’s a great profession.”

Good thing the door was closing, or I might have launched into an hour-long sales talk. Read the review of Brown’s book, or, better yet, the book itself, and you will be convinced that “cognitive multitasking” aptly describes nursing, a profession I found most challenging and rewarding. All while being able, directly or indirectly, to care for others!

imageAnd then there are some days I could weep for us. Remember my last post about Honey, the nurse in Hungary working to attract attention from their government about the primitive situation in their public hospitals? Their gathering at Parliament has had no effect. The government’s focus lies elsewhere. I wonder how long those nurses can keep up their morale. I wonder about the hopelessness they must feel.

It’s a sobering way to end this post, but I have to keep reminding myself not to take the advantages of my past nursing career in America for granted. I always had what I needed to give up-to-date nursing care. I’m grateful, in spite of their having to make do with outdated equipment and conditions, the one thing nurses in Hungary have, that no government can take away from them, is their ability to think and act on behalf of their patients. They know what Theresa Brown is talking about!