Advocating Practices of Nurses in a Military Operation


Name: Barbara Jo Foley

Rank: COL, USA

Organization: Henry M. Jackson Foundation

Performance Site: U.S. Army Reserve Command, Atlanta, GA; European Health Services Support Area, CMR 402, APO AE; Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Aurora, CO 4005th U.S. Army Hospital, Lubbock, TX

Year Published: 1996

Abstract Status: Final


Advocacy is an essential component of the professional role of the registered nurse and may be an even more critical component of the nursing role in a military operation where soldiers are separated from family. While the nursing literature suggests that advocating for patients provides a model of professional nursing that is highly desirable, little is known about how this important concept is viewed by nurses in practice.This study explored the experiences of military nurses, as they engaged in advocating practices and described the shared practices and common meanings involved in advocating. Because advocacy was conceptualized as a taken-for-granted phenomenon, a qualitative research approach, using Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenology provided the framework and method for this study. Sixty-two U.S. Army nurses, both active and reserve who deployed to Bosnia, Hungary, or Germany in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, were individually interviewed.Two constitutive patterns and eight themes were themes were identified from the data. The first constitutive pattern identified was Safeguarding. The themes comprising this pattern were: a) advocating as protecting, b) advocating as attending the whole person, c) advocating as being the patient's voice, d) advocating as preserving personhood, and e) advocating as setting policy. The second constitutive pattern was Developing Advocating Practices. The themes comprising this pattern were: a) who I am, b) watching other people, and c) gaining confidence.The stories of these nurses revealed factors that engendered advocating practices. These factors included: a) the vulnerability of the person and b) caring on the part of the nurse. Aspects identified within the nurse's caring were concern for patients, a relationship between the nurse and the patient, and presencing within that relationship.In addition to the patterns and themes, there were two additional findings that could be considered potential barriers to advocating. They were: a) boredom, due to fewer than expected casualties, and b) the physical and emotional hardships the participants endured during the deployment.This study illustrated the importance advocating practices had for the nurses who participated. These nurses felt strongly that they had a responsibility to care for their patients the way they would want someone to care for them.


Final report is available on NTRL: