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By Christina B.

Healthcare professionals provide a valuable service day-to-day, but in times of illness, we’re often more aware of what they do and the sacrifices they make to ensure the safety of their patients. In celebration of their dedication and hard work, here are 13 stories of nurses, doctors, and midwives to enjoy! 

Books

And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II by Evelyn M. Monahan & Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee

In World War II, 59,000 women voluntarily risked their lives for their country as US Army nurses. For more than half a century, these women’s experiences remained untold – almost without reference in books or military archives. After years of research and hundreds of interviews, the authors have created a dramatic narrative that brings to light the critical role that US Army nurses played as they rose to the demands of war on the frontlines with grit, humor, and great heroism. 

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira 

Traveling to Civil War-era Washington, D.C. to tend wounded soldiers and pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon, Mary, a brilliant midwife, receives guidance from two smitten doctors and resists her mother’s pleas for her to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister’s baby. 

A Country Doctor’s Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov

Part autobiography, part fiction, this book tells the story of a young doctor named Mikhail Bulgakov who was posted to the remote Russian countryside in 1916. He brought to his position a diploma and a complete lack of field experience and the challenges he faced didn’t end there: he was assigned to cover a vast territory that was as yet unvisited by modern conveniences such as the motor car, the telephone, and electric lights. This early work features the wonderfully engaging narrative voice of twentieth-century Russia’s greatest writer. 

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Traces the intersection of four individuals in an Italian villa at the end of World War II: Hana, the exhausted nurse; Caravaggio, the maimed thief; Kip, the wary sapper; and “the English patient,” the nameless, burned man whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates this book like flashes of lightening. The film adaptation is also available! 

I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse by Lee Gutkind

 A collection of true narratives which reflect the dynamism of nurses, who provide the first line of patient care. Here, nurses remember their first “sticks,” first births, and first deaths, and reflect on what gets them though long, demanding shifts and keeps them in the profession. The stories come from nurses at different stages of their careers, who struggle against burnout and bureaucracy to serve their patients with skill, empathy, and strength.

The Healer’s War: A Fantasy Novel of Vietnam by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

In Vietnam, Lieutenant Kitty McCulley, a young nurse, is having a difficult time reconciling her duty to help with the overt racism of some of her colleagues and with the horrendously damaged soldiers and civilians whom she encounters. But with the guidance of a magical amulet — a gift from a Vietnamese holy man — she embarks on a strange, almost surreal journey through the jungle, to find herself and a way to live amid the madness and destruction.

Inferno: A Doctor’s Ebola Story by Steven Hatch

In 2013, Dr. Steven Hatch first came to a hospital in Monrovia. Six months later, several of the physicians Dr. Hatch had served with were dead, and Ebola had become a world health emergency. Hundreds of victims perished each week; whole families were destroyed in a matter of days. With little help from the international community and a population ravaged by disease and fear, the war-torn African nation was simply unprepared to deal with the catastrophe. A detailed physician’s memoir about the ravages of a terrible disease and the small hospital that fought to contain it. 

Florence Nightingale by Demi 

Florence Nightingale revolutionized the world of medicine by emphasizing cleanliness, food that was hot and nutritious, and organization in hospitals. What began as an attempt to make army hospitals safer and more effective became a lifelong mission, and remains relevant today. 

Movies and TV

Patch Adams (1998) – The true story of a heroic man, Hunter “Patch” Adams, who determined to become a medical doctor because he enjoyed helping people using humor and pathos—methods that challenged the medical establishment. 

M*A*S*H (1970) – The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and high jinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war. 

Something the Lord Made (2004) – In 1940s Baltimore, while working on a new technique for performing heart surgery on “blue babies,” Dr. Alfred Blalock and lab technician Vivien Thomas invent a new field of medicine, saving thousands of lives in the process, but social pressures threaten to undermine their collaboration and tear them apart. 

The Physician (2013) – In 11th Century Persia, a British surgeon’s apprentice disguises himself as a Jew to study at a prestigious Middle Eastern school that does not admit Christians.

The Good Doctor, Season 1 (2017 – current) – Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital surgical unit where he uses his extraordinary medical gifts to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues.

Synopses and covers from IMDb/GoodReads.

Christina B.

Christina B.


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