Carol Gino's world of nursing is light years away from the big-city professionalism portrayed in Peggy Anderson's 1978 Nurse (especially as prettied up for TV)--yet somehow she comes up with the same messages. During her 16-years' experience as an aide, an L.P.N., and finally an R.N., Gino moved from unit to unit--serving on medical and surgical floors, in the emergency room, in pediatrics and a burn unit--before taking refuge in private duty. Her personal life was equally unstable: an early marriage; desertion with two children; affairs with colleagues and a second unsuccessful marriage. For long stretches her parents cared for her children while Gino worked double shifts and went to school. She knows the front lines of nursing care through and through: two nurses having sole responsibility for the care of 50 patients; little or no support from weak or unqualified nursing administrators; the futility and drudgery of caring for essentially dead people attached to life-support equipment; ""difficult"" patients whose anger and resentment helped them survive. And she makes clear why the ""burn-out"" label probably originated in nursing. ""They were so sick and there were so many of them; they seemed to move through the wards . . . on conveyor belts. I was finally giving up the hope of stamping Death and Disease out of the Western World."" Gino is not always likable (naivetÃ‰ and temper tantrums abound), and her stories--of confronting patients' sexuality of disconnecting respirators in the hopelessly ill--are almost invariably unsettling. But she is always honest. A graphic, hard-line testimonial.