The contemporary military nursing practice of Nursing Officers in the New Zealand Army

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Argyle, Michelle
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Nursing
Eastern Institute of Technology
Marshall, Bob
Buckley, Clare
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
nursing officers
New Zealand Army
military nursing practice
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Argyle, M. (2015). The contemporary military nursing practice of Nursing Officers in the New Zealand Army. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Nursing). Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), New Zealand.
The aim of the research was to describe the contemporary military nursing practice of Nursing Officers (NO) in the New Zealand (NZ) Army. Approval to conduct the research was sought from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT). The literature review of contemporary international military nursing practice was conducted to inform the researcher of the existing descriptions of the range of skills and knowledge which underpin contemporary military nursing practice. The method chosen was a qualitative descriptive approach, in order to collect rich narrative data. A convenience sample was employed to gain participants from those NOs commissioned since 1995. Data were collected from 12 semi-structured interviews conducted by the researcher. The findings showed that the contemporary military nursing practice of NOs in the NZ Army depended on the various roles the NOs were required to fulfil. There were many areas of nursing practice that the NOs were proficient in. The singular difference however that stood military nursing practice separate from civilian nursing practice was stated by one participant as being prepared to put oneself in harm’s way. Similar to the overseas military nurses, the NOs’ roles included primary and secondary health care, leadership, health intelligence, and health logistics in the military’s garrison setting, in NZ and overseas. The disparity was their induction into military nursing practice. The overseas military nurses were inducted via military health care facilities and military hospitals, this was not found to be the situation for the NZ NOs. Furthermore it was apparent that the NOs received little or no induction training when they began their military nursing practice. Some NOs became despondent and others felt this contributed to resignations and to low “Esprit de Corps”. It was concluded that there was currently no military nursing focussed curriculum on which to base induction or pathway planning, or nurses directed to develop and teach that curriculum within the NZ Army. In recent years, as a group the NOs’ appear to be more positive and clinically orientated than was noted earlier in the career of one longer serving participant. This position will potentially set the scene for an encouraging way forward for the development of military nursing practice of NOs in the NZ Army. Three recommendations arose from the research, as follows. 1. It would be constructive to conduct a comparison with NOs’ current areas of competence to the elements identified that make up the contemporary military practice in NZ, including the elements noted in the literature. Identification of training gaps could create individualised pathways to ensure safe practice and proficiently prepared NOs for military deployment. 2. Organisational support should be sought to designate senior clinically experienced NOs to develop and implement an induction and training pathway focussed on military nursing practice for the NOs. 3. Further investigation is required in regard to autonomous nurse-led roles, for example Nurse Practitioner (NP) and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), and their utilisation in the military nursing practice setting.
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