Ninth Street Notebook: Voice of a Nurse in the City

Masson, Veneta

Primary Category: Literature / Literature

Genre: Collection (Mixed Genres)

Annotated by:
Davis, Cortney
  • Date of entry: Jun-02-2003
  • Last revised: Nov-28-2006


Veneta Masson’s wonderful collection contains 56 "entries," essays, poems, fragments, and articles about her work as a nurse in an inner-city clinic. Her story is offered not as a neat beginning to end narrative, but as a pastiche of observations that range from commentary on how doctors and nurses approach caregiving, to a poem about Maggie Jones, a patient who changed Masson’s life.

As she follows the growth of the clinic and muses about the professionals and patients who give it life, Masson also talks about nursing: how it was, how it is, and why it’s such an important, and sometimes difficult to define, vocation. Some entries were contributed by Masson’s colleagues, Jim Hall, Teresa Acquaviva, Sharon Baskerville and Katrina Gibbons, but the best are Masson’s own.

This book should be required reading for nursing students, especially entries, "Nurses and Doctors as Healers," A Case for Doctoring Nursing," "Pushing the Outside of the Envelope," "If New Graduates Went to the Community First," "A Good Nurse," "Nursing the Charts," "Tools of the Trade," "Bring Back Big Nurse," "A Ready Answer," "Mindset," "Seven Keys to Nursing," and "Prescriptive Ambivalence." This book, especially for the essays "Nurses and Doctors as Healers," "A Case for Doctoring Nursing," "Prescriptive Ambivalence," and "If New Graduates Went to the Community First," should also be slipped into every medical student’s pocket.


Not only are the essays and poems intriguing and wise, but the book itself is lovely--designed to be carried easily and thumbed through often. Inside, it seems like a scrap book: maps, note fragments, and photos are "pasted" crookedly here and there, and brief paragraphs introduce each "entry," facilitating the reader’s journey through the clinic’s rise and fall, and through Masson’s career as nurse, nurse practitioner, and healer.


Ninth Street Notebook was awarded the Book of the Year Award by the American Journal of Nursing in 2001.


Sage Femme Press

Place Published

Washington, D.C.


2001 (paperback)

Page Count