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  1. Carlson, Elizabeth Ann

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The two books reviewed address topics not commonly found on a nurse's book shelf but offer interesting and useful information that will assist in moving your career along the path of professionalism. These books are about grant writing and the top-10 most pressing issues for nursing as seen by nurse leaders. In addition, these books are both published by the nursing Honor Society, Sigma Theta Tau International, and join a large number of other titles specific to nursing practice, education, research and scholarship, leadership, service, and professionalism. The idea of a Nursing Salon is discussed as another method to increase involvement in the profession of nursing.


The book on grant writing is by Rebecca Bowers-Lanier and is titled The Nurse's Grant Writing Advantage, published by Sigma Theta Tau International in 2012. It costs U.S. $24.95 and is 147 pages in length. There are many books written with the goal of helping one write a grant that will be funded and these books are useful and offer good advice. Dr. Bowers-Lanier draws from her experience as working with nonprofit organizations and her 20 years as a nurse educator and administrator. She has been successful in grant writing and has administered national, statewide, and local grants. In the Foreword by the Program Director of the Northwest Health Foundation and in the Introduction by Dr. Bowers-Lanier, the point is made that understanding how the grantor's process works is an important perspective for grant writers to understand.


Bowers-Lanier's book contains 10 chapters, a glossary, useful grant writing Internet links, and an index. Each chapter begins with a box in which the question "Do You:" is asked about the chapter's content, a glossary of key terms for the chapter content, appropriate quotations, and 'tips' relevant to the chapter content. At the end of each chapter are "take-away tips" and frequently asked questions (FAQs). Prior to Chapter 1, there is a quiz of 10 questions with answers that starts the reader's thinking about the purpose of grant writing. As indicated in the foreword and the Introduction, Chapter 1 "helps demystify the process of grant writing by putting [the reader] into the grant maker's place" (p. 1).


Chapter 1, "Grantmaking in Reverse: Awarding Grants Through Giving Circles," uses the idea of the reader establishing a giving circle and walking through the process of giving away money as a device that allows the uninitiated an understanding of the aspects of making a grant. The reader is led through the steps of establishment of a giving circle and what will be the circle's goals, objectives, target, and measures. The criteria for evaluating the submitted proposals and how to determine who should receive the grant are discussed. The chapter ends with take-away tips and FAQs that nicely round out the chapter content ideas.


Chapter 2 is "Finding a Solution for Your Practice Pet Peeve" or "how to convert your pet peeve into an actionable project (item)" (p. 15). The author presents the need to involve others early in the process, finding out what others have done to solve the problem, how to conduct a needs assessment, the need for a literature review, why a concept paper should be written, and what is included in a concept paper. One of the quotes in this chapter worth mentioning because it is so true in most cases is, "I do not like to write-I like to have written." (Gloria Steinem, p. 19).


Chapter 3 is "Searching for Money." Understanding who funds grants is presented, as well as how to go about seeking assistance from the persons within your organization who are charged with seeking and writing grants. Speaking with others who have obtained grants is discussed. Links to Internet sites for agencies are listed. The chapter concludes with two important issues that may be overlooked: the need to get to know the grant makers and work with them and to ensure that your organization is qualified to receive grant funding. The fourth chapter is "Project Planning" and presents how the use of a project planning model can assist in achieving a workable plan to address the problem.


In Chapter 5, we finally get to the point of "Making the 'Ask' or Responding to a Request for Proposal." The reader is taken step by step through commonly found elements in a grant proposal and why each step and detail are important and must be clearly addressed. One of the take-away points at the end of this chapter is "Proposal writing is not a creative writing exercise" (p. 74), which nicely sums up the information given in this chapter. "Evaluating the Project" is the next chapter's focus including evaluation models, different types of evaluation, and why grant makers focus on the evaluation plan.


Since the goal of grant writing is obtaining funds to study or address a problem, the budget for the grant is critical. "The Budget" (Chapter 7) outlines the major components of a budget and how to build a budget that will represent how you want to use the funds in a manner acceptable to the grant maker. A very important point is reiterated in the first FAQ at the end of the chapter. "Can the budget narrative and project narrative look like two separate documents, not in synch with one another?" You may be able to guess the correct answer to this FAQ.


Chapter 8 is "Putting on the Final Touches" and addresses any loose ends that may still exist for the proposal submission. The importance of following the submission requirements exactly is presented. What are supporting documents and what may be included in an appendix. Having submitted your proposal, the grant makers may want to visit the site before finalizing their decision. If you have made it to this point, that is great news but do not relax yet. In Chapter 9, "Excelling at a Site Visit," you learn what a site visit is, how to prepare for the site visit, and how to demonstrate the value and worth of your project during the visit.


Finally, in the last chapter, "Awaiting the Decision and Planning Next Steps," the reader is guided through the steps to take whether the project is or is not funded. How to view a rejection letter and use it to your advantage is discussed. The last quote found in this book is "If you're not making mistakes, you're not talking risks, and that means you're not going anywhere. The key is to make mistakes faster than the competition, so you have more chances to learn and win" (John W. Holt Jr., p. 131). The author discusses how you can benefit from a rejection letter if you take the opportunity.


The book ends with two appendices: one a glossary and the second is useful grant-writing Internet links. An index concludes the book and allows for the reader to search for pertinent information as it is needed.


I highly recommend this book due to its straightforward explanations of what to expect and do when grant writing. I see this as an excellent book for new grant writers and those who will be part of their team to gain an overview of the steps and how the various components work together.


The second book, The Power of Ten: Nurse Leaders Address the Profession's Ten Most Pressing Issues, published by Sigma Theta Tau International in 2011. It is 126 pages in length and costs U.S. $24.95. The genesis of this book was asking at least 30 nurse leaders, "What are the top-10 issues facing the profession in the next 3 years?" This book is the resultant compilation of these 10 top issues and commentary on these topics from nurse leaders. As is stated on the back cover, "nurses are seldom provocateurs" ... "but nursing as a profession has some significant obstacles to overcome, where provocateurs are welcome and needed." Some of the 10 issues include the following:


1. Evidence-based Practice-Harmful or Helpful?


2. What Is the Impact of Technology on Nursing?


3. DNP vs. PhD-Separate but Equal?


4. How Do Nurses Get a Seat at the Policy Table?


5. How Do We Fix the Workplace Culture of Nursing? and


6. What Are We Going to Do About the Widening Workforce Age Gap?



Each chapter presents the question, some information, and thought-provoking responses from nurse leaders. Discussion points are presented with space for your thoughts. Issue-specific references are included in each chapter. The editor indicates that the book was designed for self-study or to spur group discussion.


I suggest that one way you may consider discussing the questions is by hosting a Nursing Salon. A Nursing Salon is when a group of nurses gathers to talk about nursing challenges and opportunities and where passionate conversations occur. Marie Manthey is credited for beginning nursing salons as a place for nurses of all levels, education, clinical practice, and experience to discuss issues or ideas of importance to nursing. This website (http://mariesnursingsalon.wordpress.com/what-is-a-nursing-salon/) describes what a nursing salon is and how they are organized. Manthey holds monthly salons in a home that begin at 6:00 pm with a light meal and socializing and progress to the discussion around 6:30 pm.


Confidentiality is agreed upon and the question, "What is on your mind about nursing tonight?" is asked of each person around the room. Each person offers enough details to allow all to understand the topic. After everyone has given his or her ideas, either a single or several topics are discussed as a single group or in small groups. Around 9 p.m., the groups are brought together for "check-out" where each person is asked how they are feeling or what they are thinking about nursing as a result of the evening's discussions. Manthey reports that the events have been stress-free due to the setting and the food and attendees report that in general they find the Salon very positive. No agenda results, no decisions are made and no one is responsible to take action. However, the information shared at the salon becomes part of the participant's life and informs and energizes the participants.


Using the topics from the book Power of Ten does not strictly adhere to these Salon guidelines, but it may serve as an icebreaker for the first Salon you host. Whether the topics discussed result from a book or from the participants, the concept of a Nursing Salon is worth considering and perhaps even hosting one yourself.


The two books reviewed are recommended as worthwhile books to read. They both provide solid information and ideas in an accessible manner. Perhaps the idea of a Nursing Salon peaks your interest and you decide to give it a try. I urge you to do so and engage a friend or colleague with you to host the first event. You may be starting an event that brings nurses closer to each other.