• dual roles;
  • grounded theory;
  • military nursing;
  • nursing roles;
  • operational duty


Title. Warrior nurse: duality and complementarity of role in the operational environment

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore the nature of military nursing in an environment of war, in particular the union of personal, professional and organizational tenets and to identify the actual or potential effect this had on the nursing role in this unique environment.

Background.  The history of nursing is intrinsically linked with war. There is an irony to this relationship. Active involvement with military activities has provided a vehicle in which nursing has developed, albeit through fostering war, which itself destroys health and contravenes the ethos of nursing. Military nurses, one would assume, are able to reconcile the dichotomy existing between their caring role and being a member of an organization associated with conflict.

Methods.  A grounded theory design was adopted and the data were collected from 1999 to 2002 using a series of in-depth interviews and focus group with of 24 military nurses.

Findings.  Three categories were identified: ‘It’s Just Different Levels’, ‘That Double Hat’ and ‘It’s Who We Are!’ The first illustrates the reality of conflict. ‘That Double Hat’ outlines the military nurses dual role: those of caring and the military. ‘It’s Who We Are!’ demonstrates the transition from nurse-to-warrior. These integrate to create the core category: ‘Caring for War: Transition to Warrior’.

Conclusion.  The symbiotic relationship of carer and warrior arises as a consequence of strategies used by military nurses to embrace their dual role. Further research is needed to explore the essence of the caring role within a conflict zone from military and civilian perspectives.