A book is always birthed for a reason. This one is born out of the suffering of many of you, my nurse colleagues, all across America. After hearing your stress, fury, and pain in countless workshops and sifting through hundreds of pages of interview transcripts gathered by my research team, I knew that I must write this book. When I wrote the first edition in 1997, I hoped that my suggestions would prove useful. It seems that they were, because the book sold well upon its release in 1998. I still receive e-mail messages and comments about it. In fact, I just received another e-mail “thank you” today. While I am honored that the book was well received, it is time to update some of the content. The societal context is different now.
There are new and very stressful challenges facing all of us. Americans were stunned by the events of September 11, 2001, unable to grasp the awful reality that a small band of terrorists had succeeded in penetrating the most visible symbols of our industrial prominence and military power, killing thousands of innocent civilians in the process. My friends at Springer Publishing watched in horror from the roof of their building in New York City as the World Trade Center crumbled before their eyes. Across the country, millions of Americans were glued to television, trying to comprehend what we thought must be a “very bad nightmare” or “freak accident” (Thomas, 2003e). Suddenly, we felt vulnerable in our own homes and workplaces, unsure where terrorists might strike next. Travel plans were canceled, and we gathered our loved ones around us. We were thrust into an era of unprecedented insecurity and a strange new kind of war. There is no predictable end point because thousands of terrorists remain unapprehended. None of us will ever be the same again (Thomas, 2003e).
Dampening Americans’ customary optimism since the first edition of the book are other disturbing trends. Violent crime has permeated our children’s schools and bloodied university campuses—even the department of nursing. Shaken by the October 2002 murder of three nursing instructors at the University of Arizona by a failing student, we grope for answers and healing (Thomas, 2003a). The economy has