Latest novel by former nurse is ‘inspired by qualities of nursing’

Former Nurse and care times Columnist Mark Radcliffe has written his third novel inspired by the qualities that define the nursing profession.

His latest book, Three Gifts, follows the story of a 12-year-old boy who is given the opportunity to trade years of his own life so his mother can be cured of cancer.

“I’ve collected thousands of stories with all the patients I’ve had as a clinical nurse.”

Mark Radcliffe

dr Radcliffe, whose 30-year-old care times Column wound up last summer, said the book, which explored themes like “sacrifice and responsibility” inspired by some of the qualities seen in the nursing profession.

He said: “The key quality that defines nursing action is a willingness to take responsibility, and it’s an important responsibility for health and well-being – the book is about how we take responsibility.”

Throughout the book, main character Francis Broad is offered opportunities to trade years of his life to help other people as well as his mother.

He added that throughout the story, which takes place in Kent, the main character works to ease the struggles of others, much like nurses do every day.

dr Radcliffe said, “I think the child’s instinct in this book is to say, ‘Here you are, here’s my life, you can have it,’ which is natural for a child, so they make a sacrifice.

“I would argue that nursing is the institutionalization of sacrifice, that society is actually defined by nursing being a sacrifice.”

Three Gifts is Dr. Dedicated to Radcliffe’s friend Jamie, a registered nurse and lecturer in nursing who died of cancer a few years ago.

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said dr Radcliffe care times that towards the end of his life the couple spent a lot of time talking about “what it means to live a good life and be a good person in this world”.

“It meant a lot to him when he was dying,” he said.

He added: “It was about knowing it was okay and while he didn’t have long, he had 60 years to know that he knew he was using it well.

“A lot of it revolves around qualities like decency, kindness and helpfulness, and the book is permeated with that.”

dr Radcliffe is the author of two other novels, Gabriel’s Angel and Stranger Than Kindness, and has also published a collection of short stories, Superpowers.

Nurses are drawn to storytelling “because it helps them understand the world,” explained Dr. Radcliffe.

He said: “I’ve accumulated thousands of stories with all the patients I’ve had as a clinical nurse.

“I sat with people and said, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ and collected stories.”

Nurses might also turn to writing fiction “to reclaim stories” they’ve experienced, noted Dr. Radcliffe.

He said: “We see so many things that we cannot control.

“You can lose a patient, you can see something bad, you can hear terrible stories, and you can’t change it or make it better.

“But if you go away and write books, then maybe you have a little more control over the story and you can choose an ending.”

Three gifts will be available in bookstores from March 2, 2023.


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