Snapshot: This article reviews recommended books about nursing for different audiences and categories of readers. No compensation has been received for any of these recommendations. Books are listed in alphabetical order by author within each section.
Books for Working Nurses
CRITICAL CARE: A NEW NURSE FACES DEATH, LIFE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN (BROWN)
A heartfelt memoir by a frequent contributor to the New York Times “Well” blog about her first year as an oncology nurse.
Pros: A thoughtful insider’s account of what it’s like to work as a contemporary nurse, with plenty of stories and insights about wrenching experiences with patients, the challenges of modern nursing, and commentary on how nursing can help shed light on life’s deepest challenges, mysteries and meaning.
Cons: While insightful, some readers may find that the author, a former college professor, has a chip on her shoulder at times, and little patience for those who don’t match her herculean efforts as a nurse. The book is nonetheless packed with incredible stories and useful information.
YOUR 1ST YEAR AS A NURSE (CARDILLO)
A thoughtful and comprehensive guide by “nursing guru” Donna Cardillo on what it takes to succeed as a new nurse.
Pros: The book covers a wide range of topics, from job search to team building to goal setting. It incorporates illuminating “mini stories” and anecdotes from nurses who have faced all of these challenges, and more. Cardillo is passionate about nursing, and has a reputation for helping nurses succeed by viewing their careers in new and positive ways.
Cons: Some readers appear to feel the book places too much responsibility on the individual to adopt a “can do” attitude to career and workplaces challenges. The author, however, is open about the challenges contemporary nurses face, and she offers a variety of strategies for overcoming those challenges.
I WASN’T STRONG LIKE THIS WHEN I STARTED OUT: TRUE STORIES OF BECOMING A NURSE (GUTKIND)
A collection of stories from nurses and nurses in training on a wide variety of topics.
Pros: High quality writing on moving and important subjects, ranging from “first time” experiences as a nurse, to stories from more seasoned nurses on advocating for patients and avoiding burnout. The range of topics and writers is diverse, and the stories are moving, thoughtful and inspiring.
Cons: Some stories may be “too serious” for some readers, although the book does include some humorous anecdotes.
BEDLAM AMONG THE BEDPANS: HUMOR IN NURSING (YOUNG)
A humorous compendium of stories about nurses, nursing, and the medical profession generally.
Pros: Light-hearted, fun, and with stories from a broad range of sources covering every conceivable nursing topic. Should help even the most jaded nurse see the profession in a new, softer light. Stories are drawn from actual nursing experiences, and include illustrations.
Cons: A few readers appear to find particular stories or sayings mildly offensive or out of date.
Books for Nursing School Students
NURSING DIAGNOSIS HANDBOOK (ACKLEY & LADWIG)
The definitive guide to writing nursing care plans.
Pros: Uses up to to date and NANDA-approved nursing diagnoses, with an index of nursing diagnoses in the front that coincide with specific medical diagnoses. Relevant nursing interventions and rationales for each diagnosis are clearly spelled out and sourced.
Cons: Buyers report that some advertised online supplemental material is incomplete and in some cases even unavailable. Kindle users report poor formatting, misplaced links, and navigation problems. While the book is great, the electronic supplemental content needs work.
SAUNDERS COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW FOR NCLEX-RN EXAMINATION
The most popular and well-known review guide for the NCLEX.
Pros: Easy to read outline format highlights essential nursing knowledge in all content areas tested by NCLEX. Color charts and diagrams complement text well. Comes with a CD-ROM with over X NCLEX practice questions.
Cons: NCLEX practice questions are more content-based than actual NCLEX questions. While the questions are helpful as a review they should not stand alone in your NCLEX review.
HOW TO SUCCEED IN NURSING SCHOOL (THOMAS)
A useful collection of tips and guidance from a diverse range of sources on succeeding in nursing school .
Pros: The book draws from twenty five different nursing professors nationwide, and includes testimonials from nursing students and recent nursing school graduates as well, on passing exams, succeeding in clinicals, and staying healthy and sane during an often trying experience. Offers high quality, comprehensive advice.
Cons: The diversity of sources and voices can be a mishmash at times. On the other hand, there’s something here for everyone, and the information offered is helpful and of the “I wish I’d known that before” variety.
RAPID INTERPRETATION OF EKG’S (DUBIN)
An accessible, readable guide to EKG interpretation.
Pros: Text is clear and down to earth (little to no prior technical knowledge required). Clear step-by-step instructions provided for learning EKG interpretation. Numerous EKG rhythm strips provide knowledge about a wide variety of rhythms.
Cons: Goes into a little too much depth at times for the entry-level practitioner.
PHARMACOLOGY FOR NURSING CARE (LEHNE)
Superb, comprehensive introduction to pharmacology for nurses.
Pros: Extremely clear, easy to read descriptions of all major medication classes and the most important medications in each class. The author addresses the underlying pharmacology in a manner that clarifies complex material. End-of-chapter bullet-point reviews summarize the most critical information. Lehne reviews and summarizes key nursing implications for medication classes. Includes a CD with loads of practice questions.
Cons: Few cons.
LIPPINCOTT’S NURSING DRUG REFERENCE
The best-selling nursing drug reference.
Pros: This is a go-to drug reference that is comprehensive, alphabetically-organized, and with rigid front and back covers, durable too. Includes generic and trade names, pronunciations, drug classes, therapeutic actions, indications and contraindications, forms, doses, pharmacokinetics, and more. Also includes a full-color guide to ID pills and capsules.
Cons: It’s not cheap, and like all drug guides it’s prone to going out of date due to the number of new drugs that come and go from the market every year.
NOTES ON NURSING (NIGHTINGALE)
A practical guide to nursing fundamentals, by the founder of modern nursing.
Pros: Although written in 1859, the book reveals the incredible mind, insights and values of contemporary nursing’s founder and heroine, Florence Nightingale. At only about 130 pages, the book is relatively spender, but covers a variety of topics, ranging from principles of assessment, basic hygiene, patient care and self care, lighting, cleanliness and nursing management.
Cons: Despite the core relevance of the nursing concepts Nightingale lays down, some readers may nonetheless find the language and tone of the book dated, or the book hard to read in places. It remains, however, a classic book on nursing, and one of the best.