To Care For Those In Battle

Bradford - Suffolk, Virginia
Entered on November 19, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe nursing to be a profession that without regards to personal politics is mandated to care for the sick and the wounded. In today’s society there has been a lot of debate over what if any role nurses should play in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Florence Nightingale, considered by many to be the matron of our profession, began her career during the Crimean war. As she did during her time, we, too, as a profession must engage those who are in need of our care.

I entered nursing as a profession as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army eight years ago. I started my nursing profession as a means to gain access to the medical world with ideas of possibly going to medical school. Nursing as a profession became so much more than a means to an end for me; I am a man in a traditionally female dominated profession but what I found after becoming a nurse would fill me with pride for my chosen vocation.

Nursing has always been for me a means to deliver to the patient what is most needed, be it medication, a needed dressing change or simply comfort given through listening. As a profession nursing has had its high and low moments, one particular low moment would be getting hit in the face with urine from a freshly pulled indwelling urinary catheter. But the high moments come, and when they do they are career-defining moments, one such moment would be my current assignment.

I am currently in the U.S. Air Force stationed at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in the Emergency Department. Our call sign is “Arrowhead” due to our role as the “Tip of the Spear” in delivering immediate medical care to freshly wounded patients from the field, be they Iraqi civilians or coalition military. In the Emergency Department when we hear the radio chirp to life and we know what our mission is:

“Arrowhead E.D., Arrowhead E.D., this is Alamo 6-4. We are currently inbound with four urgent patients hurt in an IED blast”.

Nursing is still a profession where we as a body care for the sick and the wounded with out regards to politics. We fulfill the mandate issued by President Lincoln many years ago, “With malice toward none, with charity for all… let us strive to care for him who shall have born the battle.”

While this has been a trying time for me professionally it has also been one of the highest points in my professional career. I believe in nursing as a necessity to properly care for a patient, I believe that nurses are in great need today and more so in the future, and I believe that nurses in the face of tragedy can be one of the strongest groups within the medical community.