Every nurse in the military may not be a Florence Nightingale, but each has a crucial role to play. They work as a team in co-ordination, achieving the best possible results for their patients. Nurses in the military have the greatest opportunity to influence not only physical recovery of the injured but also mental recovery to help soldiers overcome the trauma of the battlefield. At medical care centres at base camp at the front or in military hospitals, nurses are ones who spend the maximum time with the patients, more than any other health care provider.
The work of nurses in the military is not much different from their civilian counterparts but they carry out their duties in more stressful conditions, sometimes without a break for extended hours during war. Nurses, both in the military and civilian environment have to be suitably qualified with certifications and diploma of nursing. Their responsibilities include but are not restricted to –
- Monitoring wounds for infection and preparing patients for surgeries
- Providing pre and post operative care
- Tracking pain medication to alleviate suffering and ensure rest and recuperation for the patient.
- Carrying out a strenuous process for rehabilitation
- Teaching the wounded to take care of themselves
- Providing high levels of emotional support
- Accompany patients to assistive devices and teach them how to operate them.
- Help patients with activities of daily living.
Physical and occupational therapists play a key role in helping patients maintain muscle strength and flexibility and to quickly come out of debilitating conditions. But nurses are the ones that monitor the activities every day and oversee whether the patients are correctly carrying out the exercises or not.
The emotional support that nurses provide patients transcends all possible classroom training. They are always there to calm the fears of the injured with regard to worries of limb loss, about relationships, returning to activity and war, body looks and financial concerns. These are some aspects that invariably surface and play on the mind of the injured soldier. Military nurses must therefore have the ability to mentally manoeuvre patients through phases of denial and depression, grief and anger and take them on to accepting their injuries and loss of limb as an inevitable fallout of the career and profession they have chosen to be in.
Nurses are among the first of health care providers to explain in detail to patients recovering from injuries about the long and torturous sequence of events that will ultimately lead to their stabilisation and rehabilitation. Family members of the injured also depend on military nurses to soothe shattered nerves on seeing the condition of their loved one.