From Nurse To Author: Theresa Brown’s “The Shift”

By Shane McLaughlin

Brown_Shift_pbk_jkt_FINAL_PRNT.inddFrom a young age, Point Breeze author Theresa Brown dreamed of a life and a profession where she could talk with her peers and colleagues; argue about ideas and books.  Coming from a home with parents who were academics, this is no surprise.  However, after getting her Ph.D. in philosophy and teaching English for many years at Tufts University, she realized that there was something missing.  She just couldn’t quite put her finger on it.  


After relocating to Pittsburgh and becoming a mother, she found that her calling was a mix of creativity and care.  She now works two days a week in hospice and spends the rest of her time writing, speaking on a variety of subjects and promoting her recent novel, The Shift.  Inspired by the events of “one wild day” as a nurse in the oncology ward, The Shift has been making waves across the country. Quoted by President Obama in his speeches about the Affordable Care Act and heralded by nurses as an incredibly accurate representation of the trials and rewards of their day to day work, it has shed a new light for many on the trying, incredible and inspiring work that nurses do.   



Although she has been  published  frequently in the New York Times  as a columnist and has recently released her second novel, Theresa has shown no signs of slowing down.  She splits her time between caring for patients and her family, and is already planning her next novel, which will be “a small book, about the end of life.”  Dr. Brown can also be found touring the country, giving talks to nurses and writers alike, mainly focusing on empowering people to tell their story.  To writers young and old, her advice is “Follow your instincts, and write what you want to write.  If you want to write a blog, it doesn’t matter if the only people that read it are your mom and your best friend.  That is two more people in this world who can understand you better”.  


In her own writing, she hopes to tell compelling stories that make people question what they know, particularly about the healthcare system.  After working in it for many years, as both a nurse and a writer, she uses her insight and craft to tell sides of the story that may not have been told otherwise.  One of her favorite questions to address in her writing is how nursing can be promoted so that nurses see themselves as colleagues and not servants.  She also wants people to think about how money has infected our healthcare system.  “People require attention and humanity, and caring has a cost!” she says.  


Changing healthcare is at the forefront of many minds in our country right now, and if you are looking for a unique insight at the what it is like from the inside, do yourself a favor, support a local author and check out some of Theresa Brown’s work!  You can find links to all of her work on her website,

about SHUC

Preserving, Improving, and Celebrating the Quality of Life in Squirrel Hill

For over fifty years, the Coalition has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.


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