Nurses After War

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Nurses After War

SKU# 9780826194138

The Reintegration Experience of Nurses Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

Author: Mary Ellen Doherty PhD, RN, CNM, Elizabeth Scannell-Desch PhD, RN, OCNS


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Based on candid interviews with 35 nurses who were deployed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is the first book to reveal the stresses and moral dilemmas they experienced as they transitioned back into everyday life. The nurses share their difficulties with family separation, clinical reassignments, post-traumatic stress disorder, the perceived stigma of seeking mental health counseling, and compassion fatigue. They describe how "doing nursing" in a war zone changed them personally and expanded their nursing skills, and how reintegration was more difficult than they had anticipated. In addition to serving as a personal account of the experiences,both individual and collective,of these military nurses, the book will serve researchers as a compelling example of qualitative, phenomenological, and descriptive research.

Interviewees describe in vivid detail their homecoming, family adjustments, renegotiation of spousal and parenting roles, domestic and workplace challenges, and many other dilemmas posed by the reintegration process. They provide insights and thoughtful recommendations for changes to current military debriefing to improve the experiences of future wartime nurses. Encompassing all three branches of the military, the book also examines the differences between active duty services and reserve unit services, issues of substance abuse, the Veterans Administration, the burden of multiple deployments, and other common threads among nurses who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  • Provides vivid narrative accounts of nurses' reintegration experiences
  • Delivers the first research study of nursing reintegration, which includes Army, Navy, and Air Force Nurse Corps officers following deployment in the Iraqi and Afghani Conflicts
  • Demonstrates how a comprehensive qualitative nursing research study can be crafted into a highly accessible, compelling account
  • Explores the personal and professional paths of 35 nurses returning from war
  • Addresses the reintegration differences between active duty versus reserve status

Product Details 

  • Publication Date July 05, 2016
  • Page Count 336
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826194138

About The Author(s) 

Mary Ellen Doherty, PhD, CNM, RN, is Professor, Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT. She teaches nursing students at the Undergraduate, Masters, and Doctorate levels. Dr. Doherty is also an active researcher specializing in women’s health and midwifery, although her most recent work focuses on nurses’ experiences in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their reintegration. She has been a Certified Nurse-Midwife for over 30 years, working in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Doherty was the Founder and President of Concord Nurse-Midwifery Associates, a private midwifery practice with delivery privileges at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA. Her research articles have been published in The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, The Journal of Perinatal Education, The International Journal of Childbirth Education, MCN: The American Journal of Maternal-Child Nursing, and The Journal of Psychosocial Nursing. She is an active member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, three chapters of Sigma Theta Tau, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), Lamaze INC, and the International Childbirth Education Association. In 2013, Dr. Doherty received the Norton Mezvinsky Award for Excellence in Research from the Connecticut State University System, Board of Regents. This was the first time the award was given to a nurse. Dr. Doherty is a reviewer for two maternal-child nursing journals and is an expert witness on maternal-newborn cases for the legal system. She has presented her research throughout the United States and in Ireland, England, Austria, and Denmark.

Elizabeth Scannell-Desch, PhD, RN, OCNS is Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and a professor at Rutgers University, School of Nursing Camden, New Jersey. Her research focuses on women’s health and military nursing. She is a retired Colonel in the US Air Force Nurse Corps, having served 25 years on active duty, including eight years overseas. Her last military assignment was at the Pentagon as the Chief Nurse Executive for the entire Air Force Reserve. She was also Chairperson of the Nursing Division at Mount Saint Mary College, Coordinator for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at Adelphi University, College of Nursing, Hudson Valley Center, NY, and a faculty member at Rutgers University, College of Nursing, Newark and New Brunswick, New Jersey. Dr. Scannell-Desch has many data-based publications in national and international peer-reviewed nursing journals, including The Western Journal of Nursing Research, The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, The Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, MCN: The American Journal of Maternal-Child Nursing, The Journal of Transcultural Nursing, and The Journal of Advanced Nursing. Much of her published research has focused on nurses serving in the Vietnam War, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Dr. Scannell-Desch served as visiting faculty in the summer of 2001 at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoka, Romania, and as military consultant to the Surgeon General for Nursing Research and for Oncology Nursing. She received the Rita C. Kopf Memorial Research Award from the Foundation of New York State Nurses in 2010 and the Sustained Professional Performance Award from the Foundation of New York State Nurses in 2012. Dr. Scannell-Desch is a reviewer for Military Medicine, and has presented her research nationally and internationally.

Table of Contents 


Foreword Melissa A. Rank, Major General (Ret.) USAF, NC



1. Contemporary Historical Roots of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

2. Military Medical Assets Deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

3. Homecoming: A Positive Reception

4. Homecoming: A Disappointing Venture

5. Renegotiating Roles: A Family Affair

6. Painful Memories of Trauma

7. Sorting It Out: Getting Help

8. Needing a Clinical Change of Scenery

9. Petty Complaints and Trivial Whining: No Tolerance Here

10. Military Unit or Civilian Job: Support Versus Lack of Support

11. Family and Social Networks: Support Versus Lack of Support

12. Reintegration: Creating a New Normal

13. Discussion of Findings

14. Clinical Implications

15. Recommendations