Scholars Examine Challenges of Nurses Who Return Home From Combat Zones

BookCoverA new book, authored by twin sisters who both hold academic positions, examines the challenges faced by military nurses when they return home from duty in war zones. The authors note that nurses assigned to posts in Iraq and Afghanistan often served under harsh conditions. The people who trained these nurses often had no experience as combat nurses and thus could not prepare them for the horrors of war.

Elizabeth Scannell-Desch 4to5Elizabeth Scannell-Desch, associate dean of baccalaureate programs at the Rutgers University School of Nursing in Camden and co-author of Nurses After War: The Reintegration Experience of Nurses Returning From Iraq and Afghanistan (Springer, 2016), states that “there’s a big difference between handling trauma cases and handling combat. Even seasoned trauma nurses from large urban medical centers expressed horror at what they saw and had to do to save lives, ameliorate suffering, and allow death with dignity.”

The book tells the story of 35 nurses who served in combat zones between 2003 and 2014 and relates their experiences readjusting to civilian life. The authors note that following the horrors of war, some nurses found they could not return to jobs as trauma nurses and opted to work with babies or older adults. Others – especially young nurses – found that they thrived in situations of great stress and made new career choices that echoed their wartime experiences. The authors also note that the nurses they interviewed wanted to debunk the myth that implies that nurses have any kind of immunity from PTSD, compassion fatigue, or burnout.

Dr. Scannell-Desch is a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps. She is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York. Dr. Scannell-Desch earned a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in family and community nursing research from Georgia State University.

Mary-Ellen-Doherty-Photo2Co-author Mary Ellen Doherty is a professor of nursing at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. Like her twin sister, she is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s College. Dr. Doherty earned a master’s degree in maternal-child nursing at Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Rhode Island. She joined the faculty at Western Connecticut State University in 2008.

Filed Under: Research/StudyWomen's Studies


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply