Salem Community College (SCC) adjunct science instructor James Menz has published an e-textbook for students and experienced nurses titled Heart Appreciation, The Nurse’s Guide to the Cardiovascular System.
Motivated by student feedback that his lecture style makes the subject easier to learn, Menz decided to write his first book. “It’s very gratifying to hear that a topic makes more sense than ever,” said Menz, who has taught the cardiovascular system for nearly 20 years and first instructed at SCC in 2007. “I’ve come to believe that there are many students out there who would feel the same way. I decided to make the leap and put my presentation out for the world to see.”
Menz, who holds a master’s (cum laude) in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania and a post-master’s certificate in rehabilitation science, described the notable challenges faced during the 14-month project. But he got to the finish line, thanks to a little help from his friends.
“It just kept growing and growing,” he said. “I realized that in order to be thorough, I had to include some prerequisite information in each section that I had been able to present very quickly in person.
“‘Painting the complete picture’ took a lot of revisits to make sure I filled all gaps,” Menz continued. “The writing could be tedious. Editing could be torturous. It seemed that no matter how many times I combed through a section, I found small errors, or inefficient wording. Several friends were kind enough to help with editing, and I just kept going back to each page until I simply couldn’t make it any better. Getting to a finished product was quite arduous.”
Based on the positive reaction from his teaching peers, Menz knows the months of hard work were well worth it. “I’ve had a great response. Even during the writing phase, a couple of colleagues offered some tips and advice,” he said. “Many folks have been generous with their praise and offered sincere congratulations. A couple of friends in the healthcare profession have recommended the book to their hospital’s training staffs. It’s quite an honor.”
Upon completing the project, Menz shared his range of emotions. “It’s a unique, wonderful combination of pride, gratitude and relief,” he said. “Trying to get it right became quite consuming. And in the end, I like to think anyone who reads the book will be well served. I’ve heard from nursing students and practicing nurses that reading the book really helped them understand the cardiovascular system and other processes of the human body. That’s what it’s all about – helping people understand and I’m pleased to see that happen.”
Also an instructor at Rowan University, Menz is already working on his second e-textbook which, like the first one, has grown in scope and detail. “I’m writing a TEAS (Test of Essential Aptitudes and Skills) prep course, focusing on the math and science portions. My students and I talked about holding a TEAS prep workshop at SCC, which we hope to do when everyone returns to campus. In the meantime, I’ve been putting the lessons into book form.”
He hopes to complete the next book by this fall. “It’s a journey of tiny steps but I think the students will be very pleased. It will truly help them to pass the tests and become great nurses,” he said. “Putting out a book is a genuine challenge, best articulated by Dorothy Parker: ‘I hate writing, I love having written.’”
Heart Appreciation can be ordered for $10 on Amazon (search James Menz) or at www.professormenz.com.
Caption: James Menz, an adjunct instructor at Salem Community College, has published an e-textbook for students and experienced nurses titled Heart Appreciation, The Nurse’s Guide to the Cardiovascular System.