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Authors

  1. Falter, Elizabeth (Betty) MS, RN, CNAA, BC

Article Content

From Silence to Voice[horizontal ellipsis]What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public (2nd ed.), by Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon. Foreword by Patricia Benner, PhD, RN, FAAN. Cornell University Press, 2006. 296 pages, softcover, $19.95.http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu

 

These 2 journalists are already familiar with professional nursing through their multiple writings on feminism, the profession of nursing, and the importance of our communicating to the public at large. The first edition was published in 2000 and has enjoyed both an international reputation and being adopted as a required textbook in many nursing schools. The second edition, 7 years later, brings with it the multiple interaction the authors have had with practicing nurses along with practical exercises to guide potential spokespersons through the media maze. The book has 13 chapters divided into 2 sections: Silent No More and Communicating with the Media and the Public. All chapters are written by the 2 authors. The authors acknowledge the rise of men in nursing but note that even the men are affected by a culture that has been predominantly female throughout its history. Patricia Benner concludes her foreword, "I commend this book to every nurse. It is a must read for nurse educators, nurse executives, and all practicing nurses. It should be required reading for all levels of nursing students" (p xi).

 

What is in this book that our expert in "novice to expert" likes so much? It is extremely practical with lessons on word usage, presentation, and connecting that are extremely helpful to any of us. Take the word "consumer." The authors tell us why words such as "human being," "people," "individual," "family," and "patient" are so much better. In addition, they provide sample writings from nurse educators and nurse executives and show how a rewrite improves the essence of the communication immensely. That is why nursing is important. The authors also take us through very practical steps in getting published on an Op Ed page, radio, TV, or nationally recognized journals. They show why a nurse researcher such as Linda Aiken is able to get her research in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. We hear about Diana Mason, editor of AJN, and her successful radio program along with her insights into the media and nursing. Diana is cited in at least 3 different sections of the book. After years of working on promoting nurses and nursing, Diana is being heard. The authors share conversations that practicing nurses have on a daily basis with ordinary people, be they patients, families, or even bellhops. They show us how to convert ordinary conversations into extraordinary ones and opportunity for teaching about nursing.

 

We know that for 8 years' running, the Gallop Poll on honesty and integrity has people rating nursing higher than any other profession. We also know when our family or friends are sick, they call us, nurses. We know we get upset when we see nursing represented in an unkind or demeaning light in the movies or on TV. What we do not know is how to proactively and successfully get our message out in the media. This book addresses what we do not know very well. People know nursing is important. The public forum brings nurses to the policy-making table, where we can have the greatest influence. If we are to be leaders in healthcare, then influencing public policy may be our greatest leadership opportunity. Voicing that leadership requires skills, these 2 journalists are willing to teach us because they believe in nursing.

 

This is a great hardcopy book for our reference shelf and book clubs as well as text for students and teachers alike. In my exploration of Intellectual Capital, I learned that knowledge from other industries can positively impact healthcare. Journalism has intellectual capital that can greatly help nursing.