book review

photo-27I spent the majority of last week at a training about lean tools and concepts. At the beginning of the class, the instructor asked how many people volunteered for the class as opposed to how many were “voluntold” to attend the class. I was definitely a volunteer for the class, seeking it out to learn more about my organization’s use of these lean concepts, and I thoroughly enjoyed the class.

I had an entire class on operational efficiencies in graduate school, but it wasn’t tailored to health care, and there were few examples that I could extrapolate at the time as most of my colleagues were heavily focused on mechanical industries. I have always been drawn to systems and processes, though, and I now see more of that graduate class influenced my current work than I previously realized. After the lean class, I now have very clear examples of lean work in health care, formalized and workable tools, and terms to go along with current work. I nerded out the entire time; it was a blast.

After the course, I borrowed Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in the First Grade, written by Robert O. Martichenko, from the instructing department’s lending library. It caught my eye simply because it looked like an easy and intriguing read. And it definitely is.

Even after 28 hours of lean training, the book delivered easy to understand concepts and examples to further bolster my lean learning. It was fun to see lean principles at work in an elementary school, and I know I will think about many of the examples as I walk through my children’s school in the future. Complete with illustrations, brief paragraphs, and summary sections, the book is an easy two-hour read that will get you thinking about lean principles everywhere in business, no matter the industry.

Two complexly simple themes throughout the book are:

  • Lean is not about tools; lean is about thinking. 
  • ‘Why’ is more important than ‘how.’ 

I am going to keep chewing on these and keep them at the forefront of my mind. Overall, this is a quick and thought-provoking read. You should check it out.


inPractice® Oncology Nursing has a brand new textbook resource available to help nurses at the bedside or chairside. Broken into clinically relevant segments and chock full of evidence-based practice guidelines and information, inPractice® Oncology Nursing has chapters upon chapters of education, laid out in bite-sized pieces, which is perfect for just-in-time expert information. The graphic-heavy content has a hint of Pinterest for oncology professionals, making the content easy to grasp and retain. All evidence-based guidelines and reference journal articles are hyperlinked throughout the online text, so nurses can quickly go straight to the evidence as well as national practice-guiding documents across topics. In addition, the content itself is hyperlinked, so nurses can scan from issue to issue if they’d like to learn more about certain topics. With a robust table of content, inPractice® Oncology Nursing is a comprehensive oncology nursing textbook like no other.

I had the privilege to be a part of this ground-breaking oncology nurse textbook development. I love the combination of strong content with aesthetically-pleasing, easy-to-understand graphics that help support the content. I can attest to the strength of the information as all references and guidelines were thoroughly checked and then each chapter was passed through a rigorous peer review process. And since this textbook is online, updates are a breeze. In fact, inPractice® Oncology Nursing has been published since the end of February 2014, and my section (on survivorship) has already had content updates based on new evidence in the field. Now that is timely, accurate, and reliable oncology nursing support.

Check out the new resource, and if you’re attending the 39th Annual Oncology Nursing Congress in Anaheim, May 1 – 4, you can stop by the inPractice® exhibit booth to talk with some of the experts and learn more about the textbook that is helping redefine oncology nursing education.

Disclosure: I served as a section editor and chapter author for inPractice® Oncology Nursing. I was compensated for my involvement to develop the resource. All thoughts here are my own. I did not receive remuneration to share my thoughts. 


Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.11.37 PMThanks to a few friends who’ve read the book, I picked up and finished the audio version of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop TalkingIt is sooo good.

I am definitely an introvert, and this book validated a lot about my life and work. A lot. The audio book is nine CDs – close to 11 hours of content. The chapters are full of rich stories and interesting studies about introverts and extroverts. Some of my favorite concepts covered include the case study on Harvard Business School, discussions about “the road to Abilene” (a fav paradox), “the winner’s curse,” the Roosevelt’s – an introvert/extrovert couple, psuedo-extroversion (which I completely relate to), and debate about open floor plans in the work environment.

I definitely recommend this book for both introverts and extroverts. Have you read it? What did you think?

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Lean In [Book Review]

by Nursetopia on May 17, 2013

photo-14It’s not very often that I can say a book changed my life, except for one. I rarely think about a specific book every day. Yes, Lean In by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, is that amazing.

I think I take risks and “lean in” to my family, my job, my passions, but after devouring the book in a little over three hours while traveling, I realized my risks, my priorities, my decisions needed some adjustment.

“This book makes the case for leaning in, for being ambitious in any pursuit” (p. 10). Sandberg explains there’s no single definition of happiness as we don’t all want the same things in life. She discusses unwritten rules of gender roles in society, the “holy trinity of fear,” Imposter Syndrome/feeling like a fraud, and so many more topics that literally made me put the book down at several moments so my brain could digest everything.

I am sure the man next to me on my flight thought I was crazy because I was on the verge of tears many times as I read the book – the acknowledgement page (which I took a picture of a sent to my husband because – oh my goodness – captures the way I feel about my Love), each time I read the title of a new chapter – knowing Sandberg was going to “read my mail!,” accepting her calls to action, laughing and simultaneously cringing from her self-deprecating stories, knowing I’ve lived through many similar ones. I’m not going to lie; I likely didn’t help my flight neighbor’s behavioral health concerns for me as I may have actually laughed out loud on multiple occasions.

Lean In changed my view on many parts of my life. I have made several decisions over the last three weeks, since reading the book, that I definitely would not have done without Sandberg’s advice. Amazingly powerful book!

While there’s no mention of the nursing profession in the book, I found myself thinking of men within the nursing profession a lot as I read the book. There are many parallels.

Woman or man – You. Need. To. Read. This. Book.

Have you read Lean In? What do you think about the book?


Call the Nurse [Book Review]

by Nursetopia on May 6, 2013

photo-13I read a lot. Even with all I read, though, I rarely read about nursing. I mean, it’s what I do; it’s part of who I am, and I’ve heard my fair share of nursing stories as well as want to keep my vicarious traumas to a minimum. However, when I heard about Call the Nurse: True Stories of A Country Nurse on A Scottish Isleby Mary J. MacLeod, I knew I had to read it.

Maybe it was the idea of MacLeod, a first-time nurse author – at the age of 80. Maybe it was the description of the book’s mix of poignant and hilarious true stories. Perhaps it was the thought of being the sole nurse on a Scottish Hebridean isle. Whatever it was, it compelled me.

This book is an amazing read. I devoured its 42 chapters, each with a new story only a few pages long. I absolutely cried as I poured over some pages, and I literally laughed out loud at MacLeod’s definitive style capturing some true “characters.” MacLeod gave me a glimpse into countryside nursing and some historical innovation in care. I learned quite a bit about the Hebrides while reading Call the Nurse, as well. During several “stories,” I had to put down the book and think in awe at MacLeod’s quick thinking, wondering if I’d ever be able to think of such solutions with the same care, tenacity, and fervor. I chuckled and was struck as I thought of all the nursing stories across the globe sharing such similar themes of compassion, courage, and ingenuity.

Call the Nurse is a delightful book. It’s a perfect summer read whether you are a nurse or not. Buy it. Read it. You’ll like it; I definitely did.


The 7 Habits of Happy Kids [Book Review]

by Nursetopia on April 9, 2013

The 7 Habits of Happy KidsThe 7 Habits of Happy Kids, written by Sean Covey, is an excellent children’s book. It follows the same seven habits presented by Stephen Covey in his 1989 published The Seven Habits of Highly Effective PeopleI read the original book in graduate school, but I had no idea the kids’ book existed until my children’s elementary school started working through the Leader in Me school-transformation model, in which every aspect of the school – from kindergarten to fifth grade, the library to the nurse’s office – follow and are guided by the seven habits.

really love that my kiddos are learning these vital skills early. Seriously, this stuff is MBA reading illustrated  into cuddly animals and practical stories any child (or adult) can relate to. In my kids’ school, each classroom has one copy of the book, and it’s an honor to get to take the book home over the weekend. My six-year-old daughter received the privilege this weekend, and we read through the entire book – all seven habits and corresponding stories and “practice point” questions and tips – in about 45 minutes.

It was lovely. My daughter clearly grasped the meaning of each of the seven habits; she has no problem applying them to everyday situations, which is awesome. And, I even put down the book once we finished it, thinking about the seven habits in my own life.

Are there any other parents working through this book and school model with their children? Or, are there any school nurses actually applying the seven habits into nursing practice? What do you think about the book and the concepts?


The Holy Bible [Audio Book Review]

by Nursetopia on April 1, 2013

No, this isn’t an April Fools’ Day ruse, my friends. This is real. I share reviews of all the other books I read – covering numerous topics, so after finishing a “Bible in 90 Days” reading plan through YouVersion‘s iPhone app, I figured this review is quite appropriate.

I’ve read the Holy Bible in its entirety before; it was even part of my required reading – along with other religious literary works – in public high school. This was the first time I’ve read it in 90 days, though. It was challenging but worth every moment. I both read and listened to the New International Version provided by Biblica via YouVersion. Max McLean narrates the audio version; he has a commanding voice, and soothing background music accompanies his monologue.

The Bible is actually a compilation of 66 books within the Old Testament (written before the birth of Jesus Christ) and the Old Testament (covering the birth, life, and events after Jesus’s birth). The books range in style from historical works and law to prophetic messages, words of wisdom, and heated romance and poetry. The Bible was written by over 40 authors across a span of 1600 years, has been translated into over 1200 languages, and remains the all-time best-seller and most read book in the world.

I typically read and listened to the Bible in the mornings, on my way to work, and daily readings covered approximately 18 chapters. I had maybe one or two days without any assigned reading. Yes, I did fall behind the plan a few times, but it was easy to catch up as I limited my other media consumption, which was perhaps an added bonus over the last three months. Finishing the reading plan on Easter Sunday held special significance for me. The Bible means a lot to me as a nurse; it guides my work and my life. Scriptures are posted all over my office as personal encouragement and reminders, and I’ve even used the Bible to open and focus meetings, as I work within a Catholic healthcare organization.

I really enjoyed the audio version for its convenience to listen to while commuting. Still, reading the words myself always proved faster and more enjoyable. YouVersion has special features in which readers can highlight, take notes, and even share scriptures in various formats. Throughout the 90 days, the app did crash and the audio version did snag. I found that I typically needed to update my iPhone app during those times. The latest update to the YouVersion app seems to run much faster and have fewer crashes. While I read the New International Version, or NIV, because I seem to understand it better, YouVersion has literally hundreds of versions and languages. And, I completed my reading/listening in 90 days, but again, YouVersion has numerous plans to choose from to cover your desired reading tempo or topical reading.

Needless to say, I’m starting a new “plan” today, and I highly recommend the Holy Bible for your own reading. Even if you’re not a Christian, I encourage you to pick it up and approach it from a purely literary perspective. It’s beautiful literature.

Have you ever read the Holy Bible? Are you reading it now? What are your thoughts about it?

6086575642_8d0f8fbfc2 Copyright jason2917,

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Redefining Reading for Pleasure

by Nursetopia on March 20, 2013

photo-9This year marks 10 years as a registered nurse for me. If someone told me ten years ago I’d be reading this for fun (for FUN!!), I would have tried to look up their diagnosis in the DSM-IV. (See…I’m dating myself already…the DSM-5 will be out in May 2013!)

It’s true; my “reading for pleasure” material has changed dramatically. Oh well. I’m unapologetic. It actually makes me happy. Imagine that, learning something new excites me. (If you didn’t catch it, that last statement is oozing with sarcasm.)

Keep an eye on the Oncology Nursing Society’s RE:Connect blog for my review of this book.


In Defense of Food [Audio Book Review]

by Nursetopia on March 9, 2013

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifestowritten by Michael Pollan and narrated by Scott Brick, is a stretch of a read/listen for me. I tend to shy away from most food-related books. I’m pretty sure Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle started it for me. It’s not that I don’t want to know about my food. Well…maybe there’s some truth to that.

photo-8In Defense of Food seemed like an “easy” way to start looking closer at what I eat. In it, Pollan discusses the “pandemic [created] without any virus or microbe” – our deteriorating health and sociality as a direct result of industrialized and processed foods. Pollan absolutely challenged some of my beliefs as he turned the science of nutrition and heart disease on its head, in my mind at least. That’s a good thing. I enjoy being challenged.

Pollan educated me on “feeding” versus “eating,” eating algorithms, orthorexia, and a lot of nutrition and food history, which I enjoyed. He chastised me, knowing I keep Go-Gurt in my fridge for my kiddos. He reminded me that it’s not really food. Sheesh. But, you know, I read some nutrition-related articles this week that made me pause and think hard about what I keep in my kitchen, what I want my children to eat, and how I should know what’s actually in my food. Listening to In Defense of Food was a big part of that moment.  

I was particularly fascinated by the idea of “nutritionism,” in which we as a culture now talk more about nutrition elements – such as calcium, protein, vitamin D, etc. – as opposed to actual food because scientists can’t really study whole foods as they are; there are just too many nutrients to study and know which one is making the difference. Pollan argues that it’s impossible to really study one nutrient outside of the food just as it is illogical to study one food outside of the entire diet and culture.

I really enjoyed this audio book. The narrator, Scott Brick, was easy to listen to over the five discs. I absolutely recommend this book to others, and I will likely take a look – or listen – to Pollan’s other works, as well, as a result of this one book.

Have you read In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto? What did you think about it? Did it change the way you eat?

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Ian Ayers’s Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done is an intriguing read. I devoured this book two months ago, and my mind keeps bringing the wise words back to the forefront of my mind. That’s a sure sign of a good book.

I am a fan of incentives. I probably overuse them, so it’s no surprise I picked this book to read, right? (We’re attracted to what we already love…) Ayers reminded me, though, that the absence of an incentive can feel like a stick, and the absence of a stick can feel like an incentive. That thought has helped guide several of my management decisions recently; no doubt it will continue to do so.

Ayers, the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Professor at Yale’s School of Management, also discusses the “I’ll be brief” phenomenon, the energy of will power, commitment contracts, and the hedonic treadmill among other thought-provoking ideas, some of which make me laugh every time I hear them or see an example of them.

I’ll be brief; the book is worth your time.