I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out

This collection of true narratives reflects the dynamism and diversity of nurses, who provide the first vital line of patient care. Here, nurses remember their first “sticks,” first births, and first deaths, and reflect on what gets them through long, demanding shifts, and keeps them in the profession.

The stories reveal many voices from nurses at different stages of their careers: One nurse-in-training longs to be trusted with more “important” procedures, while another questions her ability to care for nursing home residents. An efficient young emergency room nurse finds his life and career irrevocably changed by a car accident. A nurse practitioner wonders whether she has violated professional boundaries in her care for a homeless man with AIDS, and a home care case manager is the sole attendee at a funeral for one of her patients.

What connects these stories is the passion and strength of the writers, who struggle against burnout and bureaucracy to serve their patients with skill, empathy, and strength.

$15.95

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Praise

“Beautifully wrought.”

New York Times

“If you can afford reading only one book of non-fictional medical narratives this year, this book should be it!”

—The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine

“…Required reading for anyone beginning a career in healthcare—nurses and physicians alike.”

—Margaret Overton, MD, author of Good in a Crisis

“A startling collection of stories from the bedside.”

—Paul Austin, author of Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER

Author Bio

  • Edited by Lee Gutkind
    Lee Gutkind, recognized by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, and editor of more than 25 books. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world—from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa to Egypt. 
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction: The Anonymous, Irreplaceable Nurse

  • Foreword: The Art of Meeting Patient Need

  • Hitting the Bone

  • The Haunting

  • Becoming a Nurse

  • Next of Kin

  • Healing Wang Jie’s Bottom

  • Zeitgeber

  • A Long Night’s Journey into Day

  • Don’t Ever Forget Me

  • Heart Lessons

  • Docking in Togo

  • I See You

  • Listening and Other Lifesaving Measures

  • Careening toward Reunion

  • Nurse Nora at Nineteen

  • Four Sticks

  • Messiah, Not Otherwise Specified

  • All Alone and Afraid: Becoming a Person through Nursing

  • Individually Identifiable

  • Approaching Death

  • The Nurses Whispered

  • Becoming

  • Becoming

    A veteran Ob-gyn nurse remembers the inexperienced student she once was, as well as the tough love that made her a better nurse. 

Contributors