The Lived Experience of Chief Nurses in Military Operations Other Than War -- M. Turner

Essential Themes
- Leading
-- Communication

Open communication helped to solve problems and it was a good way to share information, even though there were times when the executive team didn't really know any more than the troops did. Commanders Call gave everyone a chance to clarify expectations and control the rumor mill. Coordination of patient transportation was a communication nightmare since there were so few available phones. Getting together to talk either formally or informally was therapeutic for individuals and for the group. People gathered together in lots of different ways just to chat for awhile. Most everyone who was deployed had used e-mail and beepers at home, it didn't take long for them to create low tech equivalents; not quite as convenient but they worked.


I think that it was real important to be able to leave communication open and to have a really good flow. I was proud that I was able to keep them together,and to try, as best I could, to look at their problems and try to come up with some answers. Also, to stand up for them against the docs sometimes, as far as who was getting what.


And there were times when we didn't know anymore than they did. And you know if there is not information passed, then rumors will be developed. And that was one of the things that we recommended... The executive team recommended to the boss was "Please we've got to do this. We've got to have. Stand up.." And it's not to see how many people have their shoes shined, it's to get this information out as soon as we can. And then we'd ask, "What rumors have you heard today?"'s Critical. Critical because they do come up with the most bizarre rumors and information that they think is the God's honest truth and it's not.


We just, every once in a while, had a little commander's call and we talked about fraternization, professionalism, and how we're going to do business and what's expected.


Keeping people informed because the rumor mills were just going wild. So communication was really important.


Anyway, so that was a big requirement to coordinate the clinic visits realizing that the camps didn't have phones. We could get to the camp aid station but the patients didn't have phones so you had to coordinate... You had to coordinate their clinic visits. Somebody had to go get them in their tent and I forget how many... I want to say 6,800... No, no. 68,000 clinic visits during the time we were there, it was terribly busy.


We did things like,.. One time we took one of the physicians along and went down to the Navy hospital and we met with the commander, we met with the chief nurse, and we talked about "What can we be doing better.What are issues that are that are frustrating for you. Here are some of our problems." So I felt like the communication was really, really good. We tried to work things out and not just talk about people.


But most of them are extremely reasonable. The O6 marine was great. We saw things the same way. We used to sit at the bar every once in a while, drink water, and talk about things. ......he was great. I started going to some of the army meetings because those were the people that ran the camps that could talk about what the problems were. And I'd say, "How can we help you?" And you know what, they always knew the answer or they always knew what they wanted.


We are not going to fail. also comes down to, with those kind of people together, you get through it. You know, there was somebody that I could talk to to deal with these issues. And then, there's God. You know... You do. He watches over us. Well, you know, tests you, I'll tell you. I was never in such a situation as feeling like they were ready for us to fail, encouraging us to fail, putting us in a position where we could easily have failed.


We'd just talk and... We had a little thing where we'd smoke cigars. And we'd just sit around and just talk.


Communication is a big thing. And what we had done initially is just put butcher paper up along the.... we had these divider walls dividing the hospital from the rest of the warehouse. And we would just write with markers to relay the messages, our E-mail over there. And that worked really well. And I was able to catch up on things.


There were no phones so I had to sleep with a brick [radio] and there was a brick at the base and then there was a brick at the other facility and then, of course, they had communication at the ATH. But I slept with a brick for communication. So that lasted about 2 weeks.