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Two Books to Consider Reading for Any Healthcare Professional in Long-Term Care

The holiday season is here, and the cooler weather makes it a great time to curl up with a good book. If you are a director of nursing services (DNS), nurse assessment coordinator (NAC), or part of the interdisciplinary team (IDT) in a long-term care facility, the following two books written by surgeons may be great additions to your own library, or could make a nice gift to give to another healthcare professional:

  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Written by Atul Gawande, this book offers readers a look at some of the limitations and failures of the healthcare system—especially regarding how it handles aging, frailty, and death—and its impacts on the people receiving care. It also offers examples of improvements that can be made and how it may be possible to turn around a system that often focuses too much on delivering medicine and trying to solve clinical problems rather than looking at the full person and providing what they really need. Healthcare professionals in long-term care will be inspired to seek change if their facilities have not yet addressed the issues presented in this book.

  • When Breath Becomes Air – Written by Paul Kalanithi, this book takes readers down a reflective path of what it means to make life worth living, even when faced with their own death, and to see life’s perspective from someone who became both a doctor and a patient in his lifetime. Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer just after becoming a neurosurgeon, and his story of how he comes to terms with his own mortality is sure to deeply move any healthcare professional. This story may also help healthcare professionals relate to elderly residents, who are almost all going through the transition from being at the height of their careers to undergoing the changes and struggles of being placed in a position of care for by others. When Breath Becomes Air was nominated and became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2017.

The authors of these two books share deeply personal stories and experiences with the reader and will inspire healthcare professionals to seek opportunities in their nursing careers to honor life and living, in addition to being excellent clinicians.

Note: AAPACN also provides a Death and Dying Education Bundle for Nurses designed to help nurse leaders or staff development coordinators host an in-service for nurses about end-of-life nursing care. This resource is free to AAPACN members.