Heroic Acts in Humble Shoes: America's Nurses Tell Their Stories

Irene Stemler, RN, BSN

  • $28.95
  • ISBN 10 1556429045
  • ISBN 13 978-1556429040
  • 200 pp Soft Cover
  • Pub. Date: 2009
  • Order# 29045

They are compassionate voices, they are dedicated professionals, they are critical players in the health care system with worn pairs of shoes that have miles of stories to tell. They are America's nurses.

Heroic Acts in Humble Shoes: America's Nurses Tell Their Stories is more than just a quick glance into the trials, tribulations, joys and rewards of nursing. It is a gateway to understanding what today's nurses are challenged with everyday.

Irene Stemler, RN, BSN, goes beyond the research and gives a voice to the millions of nurses who directly or indirectly make a difference in the lives of patients. Each story opens with a photograph of the nurse's shoes and offers a unique, passionate, personal, and sometimes controversial perspective on nursing in today's health care environment.

Inside you'll find:

  • Over 40 interview-style stories
  • Each story accompanied by a photo of the featured nurse's shoes
  • Stories that reflect the breadth and diversity of today's nursing practice

Heroic Acts in Humble Shoes also looks to be a springboard for spirited discussion about the future of nursing. When nurses read these reflections of the daily battle to provide quality health care to ordinary people, they are encouraged to act, taking a leadership position in transforming their profession and nurses' role in health care delivery as a whole.

Do you consider your work to be heroic? The often surprising answer to this question makes Heroic Acts in Humble Shoes: America's Nurses Tell Their Stories a must-read for all nurses across the U.S. and those who know them.



About the Author


Foreword by Katharyn A. May, DNSc, RN, FAAN


Section One

Chapter 1: Perfect Score

Chapter 2: First In

Chapter 3: Just the Basics

Chapter 4: My Mother's Gift

Chapter 5: High Tech—High Touch

Chapter 6: Paradigm Shift

Chapter 7: The Value of a Nurse

Chapter 8: Not Just a Piece of Paper

Chapter 9: Magnificent Little Steps

Chapter 10: In Step With the Future

Chapter 11: Like Father

Chapter 12: ….Like Son

Chapter 13: Patient-Centered Care

Section Two

Chapter 14: An Open Window

Chapter 15: Master Artist

Chapter 16: A Message of Hope

Chapter 17: Making a Difference

Chapter 18: Grace Under Pressure

Chapter 19: Cheery and Contagious Enthusiasm!

Chapter 20: Somebody's Hero

Chapter 21: Twice Called

Chapter 22: We See Amazing Things

Chapter 23: The Leg Bone's Connected to the….

Chapter 24: Unwritten Benefit

Section Three

Chapter 25: Making a Difference For Nurses

Chapter 26: Driven by Compassion

Chapter 27: Sacred Time

Chapter 28: Rebel With a Cause

Chapter 29: The Courage to Advocate

Chapter 30: A Walk Down the Aisle

Chapter 31: Raising the Bar

Chapter 32: Universal Caregiver

Chapter 33: Nice to Meet You

Chapter 34: I See Miracles Every Day

Chapter 35: Open Heart

Section Four

Chapter 36: Serendipity

Chapter 37: And the Oscar Goes to…

Chapter 38: A Little Luxury Called Time

Chapter 39: Fighting the Good Fight

Chapter 40: Hospital of the Future

Chapter 41: Honor and Opportunity

Chapter 42: Quality of Life

Chapter 43: Giving Back

Chapter 44: A Place at the Table


"A truly amazing experience in a truly amazing book. Not only do we hear what it is like to be a nurse but we can almost feel what the person has been through as we glimpse at the shoes that take them on their daily rounds. No other nursing-related book provides such a visceral experience."

— Allen Klein, Author of The Healing Power of Humor and The Courage to Laugh

"Caring, the essence of nursing is celebrated in this collection of the experiences of the unsung heroes of health care. The powerful impact of the blending of physical and social sciences with compassion and commitment is vividly demonstrated by 'walking in the shoes' of nurses as they silently make a profound difference in the lives they touch every day."

— Judith Lloyd Storfjell, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor & Associate Dean, Executive Director, Institute for Healthcare Innovation College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago

"To walk in the shoes of a nurse, as this wonderful and inspiring book invites us, is to take an intimate journey into the mysteries of life."

— Paul Costello, Author of The Presidential Plot: A Narrative Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Election, Founding Director of the Center for Narrative Studies, Washington DC, and Director of the Narrative Project at the Center for the Study of Values and Culture, Catholic University of America.

"These shoes and the stories of their owners help us…find a way into the hidden and forgotten stories of nursing and why it matters. The telling of these stories will help nurses value themselves and each other more and will reaffirm for us that we are privileged to be served by them."

— Victoria Ward, Founder and Partner, Sparknow

"These stories reaffirm the work of nurses, create self esteem for the worth of the work nurses do, and most nurses will come to the realization that they perform heroic acts when they care for patients. These stories of today will become the history of tomorrow and the wisdom for the future."

— Carolyn Hope Smeltzer, RN, EdD, FAAN, Editor/Author with Frances R. Vlasses, RN, PhD of Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: The Stories of Nurses, and Chicago's Nurse Parade. Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Board Member, Advocate Health Care, Illinois, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, Kansas, and Council of Regents Loyola University Chicago.

"Everyone will love the different personalities and variety of stories in this book whether they are healthcare professionals or not. And if you ever are looking for a great gift for a nurse, this is it. Don't put off reading this - it will give you a whole new appreciation for a wonderful, humble, heroic group of people - nurses."

— Rita Emmett, Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook, Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook for the Overworked, Overscheduled, and Overwhelmed, and The Clutter-Busting Handbook

"Heroic Acts in Humble Shoes is the apt title for this collection of powerful stories. Unlike statistics, stories are about sharing lived experience; they not only stimulate their audience intellectually but also touch their hearts. This opens up the possibility for a different quality of conversation with much deeper engagement between stakeholders - which in turn makes it more likely for genuine, positive change to happen."

— Christopher Heimann, Improvisation teacher at Royal Academy of
Dramatic Arts, London Communications Consultant

"It can be used as a springboard for discussion about the future of nursing and the future of healthcare in this country. This is a wonderful book with stories of trials and tribulations, joy and happiness, and sometimes controversial dialogue. There is a story for every reader.”

— Vicki Ann Moss, DNSc, MS, BSN, RN, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Doody Enterprises, Inc.

"Stories throughout the book illuminate the day-to-day rewards that are enough to keep nurses going. This book is empowering and humbling, touching and adamant. The book is a synopsis of nursing today. Nurses, nurses' family members, and patients will be able to relate to it. It is always interesting to learn other nurses' stories."

— Donna Castelluccio, RN, AD, BS, MSN, CNOR, OR Educator, Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT, AORN Journal

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