Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book Review: The Hospital at The End of The World

The Hospital at the End of the World 
Joe Niemczura, R.N., MS

There are 2,600 hospitals in Asia, Africa and South America which could be classified as "Mission Hospitals" - far off the beaten path, providing basic medical service to the poorest people of the world. The Hospital at the End of the World tells the story of a nurse from the USA and his first experience as a teaching nurse in Nepal. 

Because this book is non-fiction, I'm reviewing it in a manner different from fiction.  It will be in a discussion form versus actual critique of components.

Shortly after my first Nursing Relief trip to post-earthquake Haiti, I found myself searching for ways to integrate all that I brought home.  I had pictures, memories, thoughts, but most importantly, emotions.  I didn't know any other nurse who had traveled to a third world country to provide nursing care.  And even though I was only in Haiti for a week, it was still life and career altering. 

At the time, I was writing a blog at  Advance for Nurses and another blogger interviewed  Joe Niemczura R.N., MS regarding his advice for nurses doing just what I did!  (The blog has since been taken down, otherwise I'd link to it.)   Right away, I bought the book and read it as fast as I could.  I also contacted Joe who took a lot of his personal time talking with me. And I will forever be grateful for that.  He truly restored my love of nursing...

I found The Hospital at the End of The World to be a satisfying read.  It was conversational enough for non-medical readers and yet interesting to me as a nurse.  The one factor that separates it from other nursing memoirs is Joe's truth in emotion.  He shares secrets of coping with the ups and downs, many that I didn't even know I used.  He's open, honest and real about the struggles nurses face every day-whether in a third world country or in our homeland.  

The structure and writing isn't perfect, but the readability of Joe's voice usurped any of that, at least for me.  I tagged many pages that moved me and return to read them when I need to.  Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

In conclusion, I'd like to share one of my favorite paragraphs as an example of what I mean: 

"When people choose their life work, they all have a vision or fantasy about what they will be doing when they are at work.  It's a way to write the script of your life, which validates your self image and helps you keep going.  We all have these scripts whether we know it or not.  I had a pretty straightforward idea of who I was and why I was working in healthcare.  For me, the daydream that sustained me was one in which I was the person who worked hard to protect and rescue helpless people."

Thank you Joe, for putting it all out there.  I can't wait to hear about your upcoming 2011 trip.

And if anyone is interested in more information, please LIKE his Facebook page, where you can find pictures, videos and SO much more.

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