The experience of New Zealand nurses working in disaster/relief settings overseas: A phenomenological approach
The question under investigation in this study is the ‘lived’ experience of the New Zealand nurse working in a disaster/relief setting. For this phenomenological study a purposive sample of seven participants were interviewed. Resulting verbatim transcripts were analysed using a method informed by phenomenology to identify common meanings and themes across texts. From the participants stories a journey was identified taking the reader from “going on mission” and “settling in - learning to be”, to “being there”: - “as a nurse”, “for others”, “in danger”, “with others” and “as self”, concluding with “thinking back”. The themes that were identified include: caring remains central to this practice setting; “readiness to hand” as nurses manage with limited resources; nursing roles and responsibilities are broad and complex; personality attributes of the successful aid worker; being accepting of difference when practicing within a different cultural context; and “the danger”, highlighting the tension of isolation. Recommendations are made for human resource management particularly around selection, debriefing and peer support. This qualitative research has made visible the valuable contribution of this modest group of nurses and can be utilised to inform other nurses interested in this area of specialty practice.