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A Sneak Peek at the ADVANCE Book Club for Nurses’ Upcoming Pick

Published 05 February 10 10:58 AM
We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on the Bataan by the Japanese is up next for discussion by our nursing book club in March.

Have you heard about our nursing book club? It's coordinated by the ADVANCE for Nurses editorial staff, and they do a great job of covering the books, which are all sold in the ADVANCE Healthcare Shop. The editors conduct a live discussion, so it's a lot like an in-person book club. Often, they also get to speak to the authors, and the editors blog about their takes on the books in the nursing book club blog. The book club just wrapped up a reading and discussion of Impaired: A Nurse's Story of Addiction and Recovery, and they're moving on to the next book, We Band of Angels. The book club will discuss this pick March 3, and you can order a copy from the ADVANCE Healthcare Shop. Anyone can join the nursing book club at any time, and it's free!

One of the best things about this book club is that it's specifically designed for nurses, so many of the books have a nursing tie-in. We Band of Angels exemplifies that perfectly. It's a non-fiction account of a group of nurses captured by the Japanese during World War II.

To get a peek at what the ADVANCE for Nurses staff has planned for We Band of Angels, I interviewed Amy McGuire, regional editor. She's already spoken with the author, Elizabeth M. Norman, PhD, RN, professor at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York City. Dr. Norman researched the book for eight years and spoke with surviving nurses who lived through the capture on the Bataan. Here's what Amy had to say about the nursing book club's upcoming coverage:

Me: Do you know how the book club decided to cover We Band of Angels?

Amy McGuire, regional editor: The book has all of the rich details of a good story including both military and nursing history, patriotism, survival instincts, heroism, bravery, honor, humor, creativity and resourcefulness -- written by a nursing professor who inspires the mind, warms the heart and honors the profession of all nurses.

As a unit, the military nurses, known as the "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor" represent the first large group of American women in combat, and the first group of U.S. military women taken captive and imprisoned by an enemy. They survived shootings, bombardments, prison camp, famine and disease. They were bombed together, escaped together, captured together and bound together for life.

The author, Elizabeth M. Norman, PhD, RN, professor at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York City, dedicated 8 years to research "We Band of Angels," which includes interviews with the surviving nurses, as well as the Angels' unpublished letters, diaries and journals.

Me: What do you think readers, and nurses in particular, will enjoy about this book?

Amy: For those who are not familiar with the Angels' sacrifices and silent contributions to the nursing and military professions, I believe readers/nurses will enjoy the knowledge they have gained from this book and the inspiration to strengthen their own commitment to the nursing profession in the face of unexpected obstacles which will always be a reality regardless of the position, specialty or era.

I feel like this book is the "best kept secret" in the history of nursing and needs to be shared with all nurses.

Me: Do you have anything special planned for the book club's coverage of We Band of Angels? What can book club participants expect?

Amy: Similar to a traditional face-to-face book group, ADVANCE Book Club for Nurses members who read We Band of Angels are encouraged to join the online conversation, complemented by a podcast interview with Elizabeth M. Norman, PhD, RN, professor at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York City, who captures the grim experiences these brave nurses endured in her riveting book.

The online discussion begins March 3 at, scroll down to "Calling all Book Worms." Historic photographs of the nurses will be displayed as well.

Me: What are some of the themes of the book you'd like to touch on in your coverage?

Amy: The book opens up to what I refer to as the first phase of the nurses' military career in the paradise of the Philippines when they first arrived [before the war]. The nurses worked 4-hour shifts, and packed three types of clothing: a bathing suit because it was hot, their white uniform and nurse's cap, and an evening gown which was required dress at the local club.

However, once the war began, they nurses were thrown into their next phase which was the field hospital in the malaria-infested jungle where the ratio was one nurse to every 350 patients. From the jungle, the next phase was in the cement tunnels of Corregidor where the nurses created another make-shift field hospital. The next phase was a 3-year Japanese internment camp where the nurses tirelessly cared for the sick and dying while they were sick, scared and starving. The last phase was when the war ended and the nurses returned "home" in 1945 to America to a land that really didn't know how to receive brave military "soldiers" who were actually female nurses.

Throughout all five phases, the nurses were obviously women, they were obviously nurses, they were soldiers, they were heroes and they were angels. But if you ask any of those brave nurses, they would tell you they were "nurses first and last."

Me: What did you personally like best about the book?

Amy: A nurse's ability to put others first even though she is scared, sick and starving is beyond human comprehension. My admiration for all nurses was elevated several notches after reading this book and interviewing Elizabeth M. Norman, PhD, RN.

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About Lynn Jusinski

After an internship at a home magazine where she wrote about media rooms and $500,000 pool renovations from the comfort of a teeny, cluttered dorm room, Lynn Jusinski graduated from a small college in Pennsylvania and then moved on to write for two weekly newspapers in suburban Philadelphia. A column she penned for the papers won an award from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. In 2007, Lynn moved back to the magazine world, and worked full-time as an associate editor for ADVANCE for Health Information Professionals. Her work on the magazine led to “Rookie of the Year” honors and a second place feature award in the annual Editorial Excellence Awards presented by Merion Publications Inc. In her free time, Lynn is typically stuck in traffic, shopping, reading, constructing poorly made crafts and hanging out in and around her hometown.
You can reach Lynn at

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