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Field Expediency: How Army Nurses in Vietnam “Made Do”An ability to improvise is a valuable nursing skill, on and off the battlefield.

Sarnecky, Mary T. DNSc, RN, Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.)

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: May 2007 - Volume 107 - Issue 5 - p 52–59
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000268170.33359.82

In the early years of the Vietnam War, when resources were in short supply, nurses improvised in the field to provide care to the sick and wounded under extremely adverse conditions. This “field expediency” was the result of nursing knowledge as well as flexibility, creativity, audacity, and pragmatism. Nurses in other settings—for example, those practicing in remote areas, in developing nations, or during natural disasters—may also find themselves facing severe shortages or too few essential supplies or a lack of equipment. Familiarity with the methods associated with field expediency will help nurses adapt quickly—on the battlefield and off.

When resources were in short supply, nurses' “field expediency” during the Vietnam War allowed them to provide care under extremely adverse conditions.

Mary T. Sarnecky is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and the author of A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (University of Pennsylvania, 1999).

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.