Theresa Brown is an oncology nurse, writer about health care issues, and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between (HarperStudio). After starting her family, Brown went back to school and earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a Registered Nurse and has worked as a floor nurse in oncology for the past few years. She has been a leading contributor to the Well blog of the New York Times since February 2009, where she has authored over 20 posts. She has also published pieces in the New York Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Scrubs Magazine, and the University of Chicago Alumni Magazine. She was invited to the White House in 2009, where President Obama quoted one of her Well posts in a speech about health care reform. Brown has addressed a wide range of issues about nursing, including the importance of nursing to good health care, oncology, end-of-life care, medical ethics, and the challenging working conditions faced by many nurses today.
Brown's piece entitled "Perhaps Death Is Proud: More Reason to Savor Life" for the New York Times, which was selected for the anthologies Best American Science Writing 2009 and Best American Medical Writing 2009, led to her first book, Critical Care. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent, calls it, "A must-read for anyone who wants to understand health care," while Pauline Chen, M.D., author of the best-selling book Final Exam, says, "Among all the recent books on medicine, Critical Care stands alone. It is a beautifully written account of a nurse's first year on the wards, a medical memoir that combines lyricism and compassion with searing honesty and well-timed laugh-out-loud wit."
"At my job, people die," writes Brown, capturing both the burden and the singular importance of her profession. Critical Care chronicles Brown on her first year as an RN in medical oncology and the emotional ups and downs she encounters in caring for strangers. In contrast to other medical memoirs that highlight the work of doctors, this book focuses on the critical role played by nurses as health care providers.
Brown originally received a B.A. in English from the University of Chicago, and she attended graduate school as a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities, earning an M.A. in English from Columbia University and Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago in 1994. Her thesis explored how traumatic events are addressed through story-telling. She was a lecturer in the writingpProgram at Tufts University, and has taught at MIT and Harvard.
Praise for Critical Care:
"A must read for anyone who wants to understand healthcare. This extraordinary book will open your eyes to the reality of nursing. If you or your loved one ends up in the hospital, you'll wish you had someone like Nurse Brown at your side."
-- Elizabeth Cohen, MPH, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent
"Critical Care is a gift from an English-teacher-turned-nurse who writes from a deeply human context about her first year in a hospital oncology ward. Nurse Theresa Brown has given us a book of stirring stories about how we live, care for the sick and die. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for a memorable read.
-- Richard M. Cohen, author of Blindsided and Strong at the Broken Places
"Brown shows us what it means to be a nurse and helps us understand that nurses need as much intensive care as their patients. Sometimes more!"
-- Suzanne Gordon, author of Nursing Against the Odds
"Among all the recent books on medicine, Critical Care stands alone. It is a beautifully written account of a nurse's first year on the wards, a medical memoir that combines lyricism and compassion with searing honesty and well-timed laugh-out-loud wit. What Theresa Brown has managed to do with her book is precisely what the best of nurses do with their patients - focus always on the heart of what matters. I loved this book."
-- Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam
"If Theresa Brown tends her patients as well as she tells her story, they are lucky patients indeed. This absorbing dispatch from the front lines of medical care captures the daily travails and triumphs of nursing with humor, compassion, and sometimes terrifying immediacy."
-- Julie Salamon, author of Hospital and The Devil's Candy