In this collection, 65 nurses from places as diverse as California and Alaska, South America and Europe, tell us in tough, revealing poems and prose what it's like to be on the front lines of health care. These nurses, both men and women, speak to us from intensive care units and operating rooms, from patients' homes and storefront clinics, from hospitals with the latest technology to small clinics in the steamy jungles of Nicaragua. They tell us what it's like to walk in their shoes and see the drama of illness and healing unfold before their eyes. The nurses in this anthology write to hold fast to a patient's memory, to say what it's like when a nurse becomes the caregiver to a family member, or to tell what happens when a nurse becomes a patient, suddenly confronting mortality from the other end of the stethoscope. They share with us what is almost impossible to talk about - how being present with a patient can transform not only that patient's life but the nurse's life as well. This work is a contribution to the medical humanities canon and to literature as a whole.
Cortney Davis, a nurse practitioner, is the author of I Knew a Woman, a memoir about her work in women's health, and the poetry collection Details of the Flesh. She lectures and conducts writing workshops for health care professionals nationally. Judy Schaefer is a lecturer for Pennsylvania State University and a member of the Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine at the Penn State University College of Medicine. The author of the poetry collection Harvesting the Dew, she has been published in numerous magazines and journals, including Academic Medicine, Literature and Medicine, and the American Journal of Nursing. Together, Davis and Schaefer are the co-editors of Between the Heartbeats: Poetry and Prose by Nurses (IOWA 1995), the first anthology of creative writing by nurses.