Huttmann (The Patient's Advocate) was approaching 40, an executive wife with three children, when she decided to become a nurse--and her story is as much about a confirmed housewife's determination to see something through for herself, as it is about the rigors of nursing. Her original incentive, unusual too, was to overcome a severe hospital phobia ""acquired honestly, through seventeen hospitalizations"" in her immediate family. What kept her going--despite her husband's indifference and occasional disapproval, and the distress of her teenage children (principally a son who couldn't cook--but insisted on daily meat-and-potatoes)--was her classmates' companionship and her own gradually increasing, unexpected competence. Far older than others in her class, Huttmann stuck close to the other oddball, a depressed Vietnam vet who was the sole male among the 80 students. (Close to the end of the program, he dropped out.) Huttmann was constantly taken aback by what she encountered in training: from bedpans, physical care of male patients, the first ""Code Blue"" (cardiac arrest), operations, the morgue--to the typical (almost-too-typical) gruff surgeon, insensitive nursing instructors, and hardened staff nurses. Just six months from her goal, Huttmann was misdiagnosed as having cancer of the kidney (one consultant told her she had six months to live); her ability to ignore the diagnoses, and avoid medical care even while in pain, increased her understanding of patients' foibles. Having overcome all her difficulties to graduate, Huttmann may inspire other late entrants to the world of work. Without the savvy of old-pro Carol Gino's The Nurse's Story (p. 838)--but all the easier to identify with.