The lived experience of women military nurses in Vietnam during the Vietnam war

Elizabeth A. Scannell-Desch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The lived experience of 24 military nurses during the Vietnam war is described in addition to common elements of their lives after returning from Vietnam. In-depth interviews generated data about personal and professional aspects of the lives of women nurses in the war zone. Data analysis incorporated the qualitative methods of Colaizzi, Lincoln and Cuba, and Van Manen. Findings revealed that the nurses struggled with moral and ethical dilemmas of wartime nursing, felt out-of-place, and lacked privacy. The nurses described a deep and special bonding, and many found serving in Vietnam to be the most rewarding experience in their careers. The Vietnam War continues to have an effect on the lives of the nurses who served there. They balance their personal and professional growth gleaned from this experience with the physical and emotional stresses experienced during the war and since the war. The findings of this study have implications for further research about nurses in Vietnam and nurses who have served in other wars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing


  • Armed services
  • Biography/oral history
  • Women's issues


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