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

Essential Themes
- Paradoxes
-- Irony and parallel realities

Simultaneously the rehearsals continued as the performance began. The boundaries kept shifting, requiring a tremendous flexibility and understanding of the concurrent priorities needed to successfully achieve the short term and the long term objectives. Staff members with hi-tech abilities were in a situation that required lo-tech care.

Requirements and obligations accompanied the nurses to their deployments. Taking books from the hospital library elicited the usual admonition from the librarian to be responsible and to return every single one of them. Expiration of certifications like CPR and ACLS and other forms of qualification used to demonstrate current competence was a concern for the chief nurses. Implementation of programs for smoking cessation or new programs on AIDS education were accomplished just as they would have been stateside. Inservice classes and continuing education programs were designed, taught and approved for credit so those deployed would not fall behind in meeting their requirements. Recent nurse graduates were unable to use the old equipment. Only the most senior members of the staff recognized the old technology and it fell to them to do the training.

Additionally, there were other agencies who came to the sites to conduct research.


I went to the hospital library and the librarian was very helpful. I ran down there and I picked books. We took two big cartons of books on the plane with surg, ICU, electrolytes...those kinds of books. And of course the librarian said "This is your responsibility and I want every one of them brought back." "Yes, M'am."


And everybody Air Force wide was required to get this AIDS lesson. Since I had been trained I said "I'll take care of getting the 128...making sure these 128 get done." Cuz, we had a deadline to have it all done, Air Force wide, by the end of 1995.


The CDC came down and... Actually did a study... we collected information and data for them and gave it to them. And we got to go out with the CDC to take samples and see what was going on out in the field. I haven't read that paper yet. I have never read it. But I think it's time that I do that. That was really interesting because it was the first time... And for the first time, I was very interested in what they were doing and how they were ensuring that the information they got was valid. We developed this little form that we gave them with all the information they wanted. When was the onset of symptoms? How long? What were the presenting symptoms? That was really interesting to me. To just go out with them. We went out into... Some of them went up into the... Into the camps with the CDC and worked with them. Did vital signs. Did whatever else they needed us to do. But that was very interesting to me.


I was so worried about the training and the nurses who were going to be functioning without the wonderful medical center equipment... We had lessons in counting drops and going back to the old ways. I had been exposed to that era of nursing but none of these people were exposed and I thought "How can I take the modern nurse and move her back twenty years and not have the equipment and still expect her to give this outstanding care."