The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing

Betty Ferrell & Nessa Coyle, Oxford, University Press, 2008, 139 p. 

The essence of nursing care continually exposes nurses to suffering. Although they bear witness to the suffering of others, their own suffering is less frequently exposed. This slim volume attempts to give voice to the suffering that nurses witness in patients, families, colleagues, and themselves. By making this suffering visible, the authors wish to honor it and to learn from it.

The audience includes nurses in all phases of training and practice – from students to educators to clinicians – in the wide array of settings and specialties in which nurses care for patients. The book offers nurses’ colleagues in other professions – social workers, psychologists, chaplains, ethicists, and physicians – a rare window onto what it means to practice nursing.

Drs. Ferrell and Coyle are also the editors of Textbook of Palliative Nursing, 2nd ed (Oxford, 2006). Independently, they have worked more than 50 years in oncology nursing, caring for patients and working to improve the quality of care that patients receive.