Martha Roger’s nursing theory “Science of Unitary Human Beings” believes that the human being and their environment are one
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In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s nursing education was changing from diploma programs associate degree programs. At the forefront of this change was nursing theorist Martha Rogers. Martha Rogers believed that nursing is a separate and essential discipline and a unique file of study. In 1970 Rogers wrote her third book, An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing. This book was the basis for the first associate degree programs. Roger’s nursing theory “Science of Unitary Human Beings” believes that the human being and their environment are one. Nursing focuses on people and the results of that emerge from the co-existence of the human and their environment. nursing is a science and an art. The science aspect believes that nursing is “an organized body of knowledge specific to nursing and arrived at by scientific research and logical analysis” (Koffi & Fawcett, 2016). The art of nursing is the creative use of the scientific knowledge to take care of people. Rogers believed that scientific nursing knowledge is essential for a nurse to provide safe care. Rogers model emphasizes the “transmission of body of knowledge, teach and practice therapeutic touch, and conducting regular in-service education” (Hellwig & Ferrante, 2015) which she believed was essential in a nursing education curriculum to conceptualize her theory. Martha Rogers herself first graduated from a diploma program at Knoxville General Hospital. She was unhappy with the education she received. She felt that the training was very task oriented and did not apply any scientific study. Martha Rogers had dropped out of a medical program to become a nurse and believed that a science education was missing from diploma programs. Martha Roger’s believed that nursing knowledge requires an established curriculum with specific training.
The importance of the shift from diploma nurses to degree nurses is the acknowledgement that nursing as a profession requires higher education. This shift elevated nursing from a vocational training program in hospitals to degree-granting universities and colleges. The advancement from vocational nursing to degree nursing means that nurses are now getting college credit, which could be used to continue their education into a bachelors, masters, or doctorate program. With this change nurses were also no longer beholden to the hospital that trained them. Nurses could get their nursing degree from a university and go work in the location of their choosing.
Changes in nursing education were the result of events including wars, population, and economic instability (Keating & DeBoor, 2017). These events eventually drove the nursing profession from common women nursing sick family at home, to hospital training, diplomas, and associate degrees (Roux & Halsead, 2018). Factors that increased the need for beginning associate degree programs included economic advantage and the need to produce a mass number of nurses in a shorter time that were just as qualified to render patient care as their baccalaureate-educated peers (Roux & Halsead, 2018). The Cooperative Research Project in Junior and Community College Education for Nurses at Columbia University was a project that helped introduced the first associate degree in 1952 (Keating & DeBoor, 2017). Coincidentally, it was founded at the same university Martha Rogers would get her master’s degree from years earlier (Smith, 2015). Though associate programs for nurses seemed like a positive change following the Ginzberg Report, the American Nurses Association developed a position paper opposing the idea (Roux & Halsead, 2018). Nevertheless, associate degrees increased in size and by the 1990s, was producing nearly 60% of new nurses (Keating & DeBoor, 2017).
Martha Rogers, theorist, author, and pioneer recognized the need for nurses to have advanced education when she obtained her master’s degree in 1945 from Columbia University (Smith, 2015). She also advocated for nursing education when she became the nurse leader over New York University’s Division of Nursing and began integrating her knowledge into the undergraduate and graduate programs (Smith, 2015).
Science of Unitary Human Beings is a theory that was done by encompassing science and art blended with nursing. It examines the dimensional space in relation to the patient, that behaviors are influenced by the energy surrounding them. The focus of this theory was then shifted from disease and health to the continuous spectrum of the patient-environment concept (Smith, 2015). Rogers also developed concepts relating her main theory to death and dying, therapeutic touch, and meditation (Smith, 2015).
Rogers was a visionary, always encouraging nurses to evolve with the use of knowledge and believed that nursing education is transmissible with theoretical knowledge; and using her version of the nursing process is a way to creatively use it (Smith, 2015). By using knowledge in non-invasive ways, it separates nurses from the medical field (Smith, 2015). Rogers’ theory was abstract and out-of-the-box from traditional nursing theories at the time, so it encouraged a shift in mentally approaching nursing education and research (Butcher, 2021). Like Florence Nightingale, Rogers studied the patient within their environment and agreed that nursing cannot be learned by skill alone (Butcher, 2021). Rogers encouraged higher nursing education to be grounded in science and art and her work continues to effect nursing today (Butcher, 2021) as more nurses take to leadership to progress forward.