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Writing your memoirs? Consider a pen name

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A pseudonym might have helped Adrienne Zurub hold onto her job. In January, Zurub self-published a memoir, Notes from the Mothership, that included reflections on her life as a cardiac nurse at The Cleveland Clinic.

Two weeks later, the clinic fired her. “They told me I was fired because of the book,” Zurub said, “after 26 years of stellar employment.” Adding insult to her injuries, the two administrators who fired her admitted they hadn’t even read the book.

They’d seen excerpts, though. Apparently they didn’t appreciate the book’s characterization of the clinic as a “prison environment” riven by “angry, uncontrolled behavior from so-called educated people that on the street would get them arrested, beat up or shot.” She described one doctor as an “arrogant, misogynistic, dehumanizing yet brilliantly talented bastard.”

In her book, Zurub used the clinic’s name, but did not identify patients or doctors. Still, a clinic spokeswoman wrote, “A critical care patient environment demands teamwork, trust, and strict adherence to patient confidentiality” and noted “breaches of patient (and co-worker) trust are not appropriate.”

Zurub said, “I have no regrets.” But she has hired a lawyer.

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