Martha Rodgers-The Nursing Theorist Students

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Martha Rodgers –The Nursing Theorist
Martha Rogers worked as a public health nurse in Michigan and in
Connecticut. She acquired her Masters Degree in Public Health Nursing in
1945 from the Teachers college Columbia University and later became the
Director of the Visiting Nurses Association in Phoenix. In 1951, she
returned to the east where she earned an M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins
University and this happened while teaching at Catholic University. She
continued and completed her Sc. D in 1954 at Johns Hopkins University.
Then, she began her long term the Nursing Education division at New York
University where her strong experience in Sciences helped NYU in
developing the nursing program as a well-defined body of scientific
knowledge. While at NYU, Martha introduced theory based learning,
revised curriculums and even established a 5-year degree program in BSN
(Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Mali ski & Man hart, 1994). Martha
Rodgers published the Educational Revolution in Nursing in 1961 and in
1963 she edited the Nursing Science journal. She later published
Reveille in Nursing in 1964. Her model of Human interaction and the
Nursing process was first published in 1970 when she published “An
Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing.”After serving for 21
years, Martha formally retired as the Professor and head of Nursing
Division in 1975. In 1979, Martha became professor emeritus (Malinski &
Manhart, 1994) at NYU and continued to be actively involved in nursing
development until her death which occurred on 13th March 1994 at the age
of 80 years.
Creation of SUHB (Science of Unitary Human Beings) theory by Martha
Rodgers enabled nursing to be considered as one of the scientific
specialty. Under this theory, Martha provided the principles for nursing
research and study, which helped, improve education, research and
practice of nursing in the US (American Association for the History of
Nursing). Martha’s SUHB theory provides a modern look at the nursing
practice, which is distinct from the traditional medical model approach
to nursing care delivery (Barret, 2000). Rodgers framework also provides
an alternative to traditional nursing, which can be interpreted as
mechanistic, reductionistic and analytic. Since the framework also
includes an open approach for the world scrutiny, it has actually
challenged many traditional nursing ideas.
The major sources of Martha Rodgers’ idea of nursing theory include
the evolutionally theory, physics, adaptation, general systems theory,
music (Melesis, 2007), and her general love of science fiction among
others (Clabots, Eilers, Hopewell, Kline and Simmons). It was during her
career as a professor and Head of Nursing division at NYU that the idea
of theory development materialized. Her past training in sciences and
liberal arts is an obvious source of her theory (Chouri &Walker).
The five fundamental assumptions, which underlay Martha’s theoretical
framework, are wholeness, openness, unidirectionality, pattern and
organization, sentience and thought (Barret, 2000). First, the human is
taken as a unified whole which is more than the sum of all the body
parts. The human being possesses integrity and characteristics, which
gives him his identity. Second, the human and the environment are
continually exchanging energy. That is, humans and the natural world are
connected which means that the humans are constantly affected or affect
the environment. Third, unidirectionality means that human beings
develop irreversibly and sequentially. That is, processes such as birth,
childhood and death follow each other in order and none can come before
the other or be reversed once it has happened (Chouri&Walker). Fourth,
Pattern and organization means that life’s model involves identifying
and reflecting the individuals’ wholeness. That is, despite the
constantly changing life and environmental changes, the human beings are
able to regulate themselves. Finally, sentience and thought assumption
means that humans are unique and different from other living things it
that they possess the capability for thought, emotion, sensation,
imagery and language.
The major concepts in Martha’s nursing theory are: energy fields,
openness, pattern and the four-dimensionality (Meleis, 2007). The Energy
Field is taken as the basic element of the living and non-living things,
it is infinite, dynamic and with no boundaries (Chouri & Walker).
Openness is a feature of both the humans and environment. It goes beyond
time and space and that energy fields of the environment and humans are
integral (Meleis, 2007). Pattern refers to the features of an energy
field, which is considered as a singular wave in regard to humans and
environment, which are constantly changing. Four-dimensionality means
that humans and the environment (energy fields) are not bound by space
or time. It is also termed as pan-dimensionality (Meleis, 2007).
The major terms which are defined in Rodgers theory are:
Unitary, which refers to the fact of being whole and cannot be broken or
divided into parts. Thais, it is irreducible. Therefore, according to
her theory, human beings are unitary.
Nursing is shown to take place along a time-space scale whereas the Man
and environment are not bound by time (Meleis, 2007).
Human is defined as a padimensional, indivisible, irreducible energy
field which is identified manifesting characteristics and pattern, which
are only specific to the whole.
Environment is also defined as everything else that is not in the
pattern and manifestation of the human field and which is in constant
interaction with the human being.
In conclusion, Rodgers created her Nursing (SUHB) theory in an attempt
to improve the nursing practice as a profession. Theory and practice are
related and although the nursing theory may not improve the nursing
profession in the long run, it will continue to develop in the footsteps
of other disciplines. Some of the limitations of nursing theories are
the fact that most of the nurses have no experience or the training
required to deal with the major concepts of nursing theories. Most of
the nurses have continued to fair poorly in the understanding and
application of theory to practice in the course of their work.
Buchinger, K.L. (1992). Martha E. Rogers In: American nursing:
Abiographical dictionary, Vol II. V.L.
Chouri, A. & Walker, E. (n.d.) Martha Rodgers: the Science of Unitary
Human Beings theory Clabots, S. et al. (n.d.) Martha Rogers:Science of
Unitary Human Beings
:// artha erogers (retrieved on 6th
March, 2013)
(retrieved on 6th March, 2013)
Malinski, V.M. (1986). Explorations of Martha Rogers’ Science of
Unitary Human Beings. East Norwalk, CT: Prentice-Hall.
Malinski, V.M., and Barrett, E.A.M. (1994). Martha E. Rogers: Her
Lifeand Work. Philadelphia: F.A. Bullough, V.L., O.M. Church, &
A.P.Stein, (Eds.). New York: Garland.Hektor, L.M. (1989). Martha E.
Rogers: A Life History. NursingScience Quarterly 2 2, 63-73.
Meleis, A. I (2007). Theoretical Nursing: Development & Progress. (4th
Ed), Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Williams.
Martha Rodgers –The Nursing Theorist
Martha Rodgers –The Nursing Theorist