Move Over Oprah: Book Clubs Connect Nurses with Patients

Sarah Kearns, April 1, 2010

When the phrase "book club" comes up, one thinks of a group of people, meeting at a coffee shop or a member's home, discussing the most recent best-seller discussed on Oprah's daytime television show.

However, the definition of a book club will now have to include nurses reading medical-themed literature to better connect with their patients.

The first hospital to institute the idea of a nursing/physician based book club was in 1997, and over the past decade-plus, similar ideas and book clubs have become more popular across 25 states, including California, Massachusetts, and New York.

By reading medical themed literature—such as "The Death of Ivan Illyich" by Tolstoy or "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" by French Elle Editor-in-Chief Jean-Dominique Bauby—nurses and physicians can develop a better understanding of what the patient is going through.

Clinical Nurse Educator Lisette Cintron, RN, MSN, CHCQM, CNL, recalls how physicians formed a book club on their own at a previous place of employment. Cintron says that in addition to reading medical literature, "they read up on new and interesting evidenced-based topics and discuss their thoughts, findings, etc.," she says.

In addition to the book club, Cintron says the nurses also formed a journal club.

"The Journal Club is made up of nurses who review evidence-based practice topics and have discussions. They have even sent out information on the shared-governance councils as recommendations or suggestions that the facility may want to look into for possible changes and improvements."

As far as her own opinion on the idea, Cintron believes it has a positive effect for all participating parties.

"I believe that having book/journal clubs adds to the current knowledge base of nurses as well as physicians and can add positive outcomes to facilities that have it implemented within their organizations," she says.

As many nurses are already big advocates for finding alternative ways to grow in the practice through added knowledge and sharing of information, this is an example of life long learning, which Cintron supports.

"This is one avenue that can be used as a forum when one is not ready to return to school to further their education, but wants to continue learning and growing within their profession."

Sarah Kearns Sarah Kearns is an editor for HCPro in the Quality and Patient Safety Group. Contact Sarah at
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon