In this remarkable anthology, 51 women and men describe their nursing school experiences, from initial fears and anxieties to increasing confidence and appreciation of the profession.  Jeanne Bryner, in her Introduction, explains how she and Cortney Davis deliberately sought a diverse group of nurse-writers, from recent nursing graduates in their twenties to seasoned veterans in their nineties.  Their collection includes different races, nationalities, social and economic classes, and education levels.  What the contributors have in common besides being nurses is that they are gifted writers able to capture in poetry or prose the transforming moments of their lives. Nursing students reading this anthology will recognize many kindred souls, struggling with the same uncertainties and apprehensions, wondering how they will ever accomplish all this, but also gaining command of the profession, relishing its special rewards, valuing patients as their ultimate teachers. All readers will understand what is so special about nursing .


Two of our best nurse-writers have joined forces to co-edit this rich anthology. Both Jeanne Bryner and Cortney Davis have published several books of their own writing and have been leaders in the nursing groups of the literature and medicine field. They have also both been involved in many writing workshops and have encouraged their students to become writers themselves. This anthology builds on many years of nurse-writers’ publications, beginning in 1995 with Cortney Davis and Judy Schaffer bringing out Between the Heartbeats: Poetry and Prose by Nurses. That anthology was a big first, presenting nurse writers as competent and as interesting as the many physician writers dominating the field. Since then nurses have gained more and more respect.  This new anthology has a narrower focus on the nursing school and the transforming experiences on the road to a nursing degree. One nurse-writer evolved from scrubbing floors to being Dean of the nursing school.  Another described problems in trying to master the necessary skills, but she realizes that “my greatest gift to my patients, and my greatest joy, was when I performed those skills with compassion—and in those moments became the nurse I’d always wanted to be”(54).


Learning to Heal is scheduled for publication in September 2018.  Pre-orders are available from the publisher.


Kent State University Press




Jeanne Bryner and Cortney Davis

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