Is everyone stuck with a bunch of textbooks after graduation? I keep wondering if the folding legs on my table/desk are going to collapse. I've been looking forward to getting rid of a bunch of these and the day has finally come. So, here are my nursing texts divvied up by post-schooling usefulness...
Books I'm getting rid of immediately
Mosby's 2005 Drug Consult: I bought an old copy of a drug consult to save money. This one was a stinker. Very little info and difficult to read and look things up. The hospital where we did clinicals uses a different publisher's drug consult, and it was much better. Avoid Mosby's Drug Consult. Besides, in today's clinical environment, who needs one at all (Hint: go PDA)? Unless the computers go down, or you want to look something up at home... It's a good thing to have, I think.
Lab and Diagnostic Test Guide: I bought an old copy of this to get one that was co-authored by one of my professors. Not a bad choice, but in general the lab and diagnostic guide was not needed. Does anyone actually use this in school? All the information is available on the web, now, anyhow. Assigning it was not a good use of resources.
Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: ugh. Read my Amazon review.
Masting Project Management: double ugh. When I read books like this, I imagine people in lower and middle management jobs desperately looking for something, anything to escape. It depresses me. If you can't project manage intuitively, you're not going to be promoted much unless you kiss butt, period.
From Silence to Voice: I wanted to like this book, but in the end I thought it was mostly just a guide to common sense political wrangling and English composition. Better to get Strunk & White's and be done with it.
Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: I wrote a poor review for Amazon, although after I was forced to use this book more, I found it handy for school. However, I am still very skeptical about the entire nursing diagnosis project. Creating this entire system that's taught in school and then discarded in clinical practice just for the purpose of demonstrating "professional knowledge" seems like a waste. Plus, I'm not sure it does a good job of what it's supposed to do, which is describe nursing practice. In cardiac and critical care, there are plenty of assessments and interventions that nurses make that are essentially medical in nature.
Essential Drug Dosage Calculations: The math that nurses need to know is very elementary, however important it might be. Even more so now that so many products come pre-measured and pre-drawn. Buying this book was not useful for me, although, inexplicably, many of my classmates had difficulty with the simple math needed for nursing. In fact, there were even errors in the answer keys for some of our quizzes. I don't think this book was necessary, though, unless problem sets were going to be assigned from it.
Clinical Nursing Skills & Techniques: A fine textbook from which we did not have enough reading or test assessments. I am getting rid of it because it is out of date, but I may get another. The only thing is, all this information should be online for free!
Nutrition From Science to Life: The hokey title says it all. It was out of date when I bought it and would have been a waste of money anyhow. The science of nutrition is a lot more undecided and unknown than nutritionists would like to think, although there seem to have been great strides in the last 5-10 years. If I had to teach a nutrition course, I think I would make students more aware of the controversies rather than teaching "best diet" and "best weight."
Sociology in Our Times: Okay book, but I am outraged that this discipline is still teaching discredited crap like The Authoritarian Personality. This textbook has citations from the '50s and '60s. What a joke!
Understanding Psychology: Whatever. Didn't really need it for the Intro Psych class.
A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development: It aims low, but is a well-constructed text from which I was able to learn a lot. As with sociology, psychology has some sacred cows, like Piaget, that seem to me to be almost certainly wrong, although they are still taught without addressing issues like Piaget's out-of-date research techniques and lack of grounding in biopsych. All the background psychology a nurse needs is available online now.
Professional Nursing Practice: Read my Amazon review--this was a real, true waste of money.
Public Health Nursing: I think there was one reading assigned from this book in my community health course. Could have easily taught the course without this book. I think I may change my mind and keep it, though, as a reference. Public health nursing seems labyrinthine to me.
Wong's Nursing Care of Infants and Children: I hated this book. I hated everything about it. The prose, the design, the illustrations--it was all awful. It was almost unreadable, and I stopped trying when I discovered that it was still teaching Freud's developmental levels. These should be relegated to courses on history of psychology rather than being included in practical textbooks. The actual useful material in this book could have been condensed to a text maybe a quarter to a third the size.
Books I'm getting rid of soon
NCLEX review books: I'm tempted to keep Saunders' Comprehensive Review since it has a nice outline, but realistically, I'll never look at it again after the boards. These can all go to next year's students. Gone after the NCLEX.
Medical-Surgical Nursing: an okay text. It needs better design/layout. I couldn't really figure out how to use it efficiently until the course was almost through. Gone after the NCLEX.
Fundamentals of Nursing: why this text and the Med-Surg one? Too much duplication. If I ever want to refer to theory, I can find this in a library. Gone after the NCLEX.
Procedures and Techniques in Intensive Care Medicine: Well, this one wasn't assigned, but I'm getting rid of it after I read about a few of the procedures, like echocardiography. It's out of date, now, I think.
Psychiatric Nursing: Way too based in Freudianism and psychotherapy, but my impression is that without hanging on to these, psychiatric nurses wouldn't have anything to do except pass meds. The "decade of the brain" material seems like an add-on. Good layout, though, and easy to read. I came to enjoy this book.
Ethical Decisionmaking in Nursing and Healthcare: Arrrrrrrggghhhhhhhh!!! As soon as I find a way to make a formal and comprehensive critique of this book, it's going in the trash. What a boondoggle! Instructors can use it to justify any ethical/political opinion, and the book is so circular that they can get away with it.
The Complexities of Care: I read one of the chapters in the library and liked it a lot, so I purchased the book. Then after looking at a couple more, I am less enthusiastic, but I will read it before giving it to somebody else.
Books I'm keeping
Diagnostix: I got my blood pressure cuff out of the box once, when I first got it, to put it together and test it out. Why was this required for school? I will keep it for an emergency kit for the car, however.
Taber's: Whatever. All the terms are available on the web now, but I'll keep it. It was a waste of money to make it a required text, though. Books should be assigned thus: "Here are the web resources, but if Internet access goes down, you might need these."
Essentials of Nursing Research: Not much in here that couldn't be found in a library or online, but if you intend to pursue any research, it might be useful to keep in mind the standards that reviewers and editors will be looking to.
General, Organic and Biochemistry: I never learned this well enough before so will start reviewing after the NCLEX.
Critical Care Nursing A Holistic Approach: I thought this was a good book. I intend to read it cover to cover after the NCLEX. And if I'm going to start studying for the CCRN exam, it may come in handy.
Introduction to Microbiology: From our micro class, apparently a good intro textbook, although I have nothing to compare it to. I wish the micro class was aimed more at nursing and medicine, though if I were to pursue infection control, this will be a good review/reference work.
Pharmacology for Nursing Care: What can I say? I liked it. Others didn't. I want to keep it and compare it with other pharmacology textbooks in the future. I also want to review the material from time to time.
Physical Examination & Health Assessment: As with the pharmacology book, useful review material and I'd like to compare it to other assessment texts in the future.
Books for elective courses
Biopsychology: It was an okay course, but I was hoping for something sexier. I thought the Pinel textbook was weak and hard to read. Useful information is all on the web and changing very quickly anyhow. Getting rid of it.
Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning: I think this book is outdated. Advice on workout design, nutrition, etc. seems old-fashioned. Getting rid of it.
Fundamentals of Molecular Virology: At first I liked this book, which is organized by viral family, but after getting into the course more, I wished I had a textbook that was organized differently--say, a chapter on known/common methods of cell entry, etc. This would have been better for long-term retention, I think. Keeping it.
Medical Microbiology: This was also the name of the course this textbook was for. It was a good course, and I squandered time and energy that semester being stressed out about Nursing Fundamentals, which turned out to be not much a challenge. Although much of the information in this text can be found online, it is not easy to access as it's in image databases, etc. This would be a good text to have on hand if you were working in a tropical area or even the south. Keeping it.
Emergency Care: I just discovered last week that my EMT license is still good. I thought it had expired, but apparently it's good for three years rather than two. The text is useful since it presents information in the way the EMS system utilizes it, which is different from nursing. Hopefully, I'll be accepted at a volunteer service after I get established in a nursing job. Keeping it.
Biochemistry: This text was for a course that I didn't actually get to take. When I was taking Biopsychology, I tried to get the professor for Biochemistry to let me into the course without the prerequisites. He said no, but I bought the book and started attending the classes anyhow, hoping he would let me in. He didn't. However, even without doing the reading, I was able to follow what was going on well enough, and I got to see a guest speaker who was a VP at a pharmaceutical company give a talk on the drug approval process. Very informative. Keeping it.
Books I bought for my own edification
Physiology: At the beginning of nursing school, I assumed that medical schools must use one, or a couple, standard physiology texts. I couldn't really determine whether this is true from looking on Amazon. However, Berne and Levy seem to be well-regarded authors. So, I got this text thinking that we would be studying physiology in more depth than we had in A&P (buahahaha) and that I would simply read from the Berne and Levy rather than from the nursing textbook. You can imagine how this worked out. Keeping it, though, and may start reading.
Renal Pathophysiology, Primer on Kidney Diseases, Clinical Physiology of Acid-Base and Electrolyte Disorders, Mosby's Fluid, Electrolyte, and Acid-Base Balance, Acid-Base, Fluids, and Electrolytes Made Ridiculously Simple: Somehow, I had the idea that these books were going to help me get way ahead on renal and acid-base info. Somehow, I had the idea we had to know a lot more about these topics than we actually did. Getting rid of them.
PDR Nurses Drug Handbook Cardiovascular Edition: This was a give-away from Bristol-Myers Squibb. Not much better than a standard drug guide. Getting rid of it.
Cardiovascular Physiology: This is the Berne and Levy, cardiovascular chapter only. A great little book that every cardiac, ICU and PCU nurse should read. Keeping it.
Principles of Physiology: A slightly less technical (dumbed down) version of Berne and Levy. Since I didn't have an A&P book, only an A book, this serves very well as a reference for physiology. Keeping it.
Core Curriculum for Critical Care Nursing: As soon as I get my "sea legs" in my first job, will start reviewing this to prepare for the CCRN exam, which I think can be taken after the equivalent bedside hours to about one year of full-time work. Keeping it.
Basic Arrhythmias: For when I thought I would get cross-trained as a telemetry technician a few years ago. Oh well. Keeping it, though.
Color Atlas of Anatomy: This is an amazing book that is actually photos of cadavers. This is about as close as I'll probably come to a gross anatomy clinic. Keeping it.
Atlas of Human Anatomy: Since I borrowed someone else's book for A&P, I don't have an A&P text. At first, when I still remembered all the anatomy from A&P, I didn't think that mattered. But I've forgotten a lot over time, so I needed a reference. I think this one is okay, although its low price and high volume at Border's made me wonder whether or not it might have some mistakes. I'm taking my chances.
Clinically Oriented Anatomy: I bought this after A&P thinking I would get a different perspective. This is a good text, but it's not an armchair book. It really needs to be used in a classroom setting. Still, keeping it.
Well, that's it. Really, there should be a single reference text that nurses could buy to support their practice. Classroom textbooks don't cut it as they present all information with equal emphasis, whereas some things will no doubt be easy to remember after starting practice, while others will not. Something to think about...
Post revised July 2009...