I am Lt Col (Retd) Dr Keiron Spires QVRM TD, Associate Professor for eLearning and Learning Technologies in the Schoolof Health and Social Care, at London South Bank University. I trained as a nurse in the Army, and in my career as a military nurse, I qualified as both an adult and a children’s nurse and had operational service around the world both as a Regular and as a Reservist nurse. I was awarded the QVRM in the New Year’s Honours List in 2006.
My educational career has centred around nursing and education. I have been the Course Director for the MA Practice Education (Nurse Teacher status course), and also for a BSc (Hons) Radiographic Studies course taught primarily by eLearning to radiographers in Singapore. I lead on eLearning and Learning Technologies development for the Faculty and represent the School in wider university projects. I am particularly interested in the use of social media for learning and teaching and all forms of mobile technology. I have worked with Apple Education on the use of iPads in Education. You can see more about me at LinkedIn.
My PhD (completed in 2013) was on Nurses in the Boer War 1899-1902. The Boer War was important for British military nursing as it was the first major conflict for Britain in which nurses in large numbers had been deployed, and at the end of the war a new nursing service was created, the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), which saw nurses becoming a formed component of the British Army. Although there are published accounts of the Boer War and nursing histories that cover this period, there are no accounts of who the nurses were themselves. The nurses who served in South Africa were pivotal to the acceptance of the need for nurses and nursing in time of war, and that they should be wherever the sick and wounded were.
Prosopography was chosen to illuminate this body of nurses in order to discover what characteristics they possessed as a whole, what contexts motivated their choosing to serve, and how they as a body of nurses helped to shape military nursing. The birth of military nursing that took place over this period was a collective action. The nurses were drawn from a wide geographic footprint, many were relatively young and inexperienced, some had experience in the military or in South Africa. This fusion of experience and background, and the need to overcome adversity and the chaos of medical care in the Boer War, somehow forged a group of nurses who were then able to lay the foundations for military nursing. This military nursing was founded on civilian practice as few nurses had military experience, and indeed many doctors and orderlies also had little or no military experience either, so they collectively fell back on what they knew.
The prosopography was a view across nearly 2000 nurses and had the effect of balancing some of the rhetoric about the Boer War. The numbers of nurses identified were different to any other published account and highlighted how many nurses were not in the military or were newly recruited reservists. It was clear that most nurses were professional and hard working. Most had not worked in the military system or with orderlies before, and this helps to explain some of the issues between nurses and orderlies which began to settle down over time and were put onto a formal footing with the formation of the QAIMNS.