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Keywords

history, mass disaster, nursing research

 

Authors

  1. Leifer, Sherrill L.
  2. Glass, Laurie K.

Abstract

Background: During the Cold War that followed World War II, the nursing profession was challenged to prepare for mass disasters. Army Nurse Corps officer Harriet H. Werley made significant contributions to the field of nursing in mass disaster preparation, education, and research during the 1950s.

 

Objectives: To analyze nurses' involvement in research and mass disaster preparations during the Cold War era and to describe the role of Harriet H. Werley and the Army Nurse Corps.

 

Methods: The research was conducted using a historical research method. Primary sources included the H. H. Werley Papers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Secondary sources were related to the Army Nurses Corps, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the Cold War, and nuclear testing.

 

Results and Discussion: In the Army Medical Services Department of Atomic Casualties Studies, Werley participated in disaster response classes, nuclear attack simulations, and biomedical research. These efforts fueled Werley's vision for nursing research and interdisciplinary collaboration, resulting in the Army's first department of nursing research. Her actions influenced the nursing community to consider its professional responsibility as a key provider in disaster management and partner in interdisciplinary research. Today, 50 years later, the nursing profession again faces demands and challenges regarding disaster management preparation.