How much is enough? Using Delphi to explore the clinical-contact-time and return-to-practice needs of military nurses
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence & Practice    

How much is enough? Using Delphi to explore the clinical-contact-time and return-to-practice needs of military nurses


Military nurses are required to deploy worldwide at any time to support British forces. They must maintain military and clinical skills, and fulfil other military commitments as required. These diverse responsibilities make it challenging for military nurses to maintain the level of clinical expertise they require for short-notice deployments. A service evaluation was conducted to investigate issues related to clinical contact time (CCT) and to return to practice (RTP) for military nurses.


A consultative approach was taken in the form of a modified Delphi study, followed by a military judgement panel (focus group).


Two aspects of the study are reported here: CCT and RTP. Panellists considered that policy rather than guidance is needed to ensure military nurses achieve the requisite CCT to prepare them for operational deployment. Additionally, there was a broad consensus on a range of issues, including minimum CCT for specific groups and mechanisms to support those returning to practice.


Maintaining clinical skills, and the challenges of returning to practice, require careful consideration in a mobile workforce with wide-ranging commitments. Prescribing CCT, ensuring assignment orders specify CCT and the introduction of job plans should help military nurses maintain their core and specialist nursing skills, guide commanders and reinforce the culture of ‘hands-on nursing’ as a valid use of time.

Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2017.e1574


Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 30 August 2016

Accepted: 17 October 2016

Published online: 07 April 2017

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