Hargreaves, Janet and Golding, Berenice (2014) Not for God Queen or Country. The Bulletin of the UK Association for the History of Nursing, 3. pp. 33-44. ISSN 2049-9744

Much has been written about volunteers who offer nursing aid during times of conflict or natural disaster both before and since Florence Nightingale's high profile mission in the Crimean war. Adventure and travel, religious conviction, national pride and a desire to care for the wounded are cited as motivators.
Military nursing is now well established, the lack of immediate threat of war or invasion removes any perception of necessity to volunteer and the secularisation of health care minimises the presence of religion as a factor. Furthermore women can travel and seek adventure without further justification than the pleasure of doing so.
This research grew out of curiosity to understand in what ways nurses, who volunteered for humanitarian work at the close of the 20th century, were similar to those who did so 100 years earlier.
Following ethical approval oral histories were recorded with 7 nurses, who happen to be female, who worked for Médecins Sans Frontières during the 1990s and early 2000s. Médecins Sans Frontières was chosen as it espouses a strongly secular and international philosophy. Their histories illuminate the ways in which they came to work for Médecins Sans Frontières, locating their experiences within their life story and identity as nurses and women.
Drawing on extracts from the oral history accounts, this paper will explore the extent to which motivations have remained constant over time, and the way in which their ordinary and extraordinary experiences coexist.

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