Martha E. Rogers
Martha E. Rogers, Founder
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An Introduction to Martha Rogers and the Science of Unitary Human Beings by Francis C. Biley (no date).

Dr. Biley's paper contains a description and critical analysis of the main components of the SUHB. The paper would benefit from considerable updating but may be of some use to some readers in its present form.


Nursing in Europe has, over the past twenty years or so, benefited from the influence of innovations that have arisen from North America. The nursing process, quality assurance, primary nursing and nursing models and theories are just a few of the topics that have gained wide application.

But there is at least one major area of study and practice that has been developed and is receiving considerable attention in North America which has yet to achieve anything more than a brief acknowledgment elsewhere. The work of Martha Rogers and other nurses who have based their practice, education and research on Rogers’ Science of Unitary Human Beings (1970, 1980a, 1983, 1986, 1990) has remained in a state of relative obscurity.

The Science of Unitary Human Beings provides a radical vision of nursing reality. It provides a framework for nursing practice, education and research that promises a move away from the previously predominant medical model approach to the delivery of nursing care. The framework provides an alternative to the traditional view of nursing which could be described as reductionistic, mechanistic and analytic. It has been said that it has "guided nursing out of a concrete, static, closed system world view" (Smith, 1989) and as a result has started to challenged many preconceived ideas about nursing. Indeed, when the theoretical framework was first published, it was "in clear contradiction to all the nursing theories in use at that time" (Sarter, 1988a).

Although the Science of Unitary Human Beings is hardly recognized outside North America, the scale of the influence of the framework on American nursing is significant. International conferences are held in order to disseminate the latest information. The Society of Rogerian Scholars exists in order to provide debate and to enable the exchange of ideas and views through local meetings and via the quarterly newsletter the "Rogerian Nursing Science News". Textbooks dedicated to Rogers’ work (notably Malinski, 1986a; Sarter, 1988a; Barrett, 1990a; Lutjens, 1991; Malinski and Barrett, 1994; Barrett and Malinski, 1994; Madrid and Barrett, 1994) have been published. In addition, there is a wealth of other published material, with articles frequently appearing in journals such as "Nursing Science Quarterly" and the Rogerian dedicated journal "Visions". There is also a growing body of research that is testing and otherwise exploring some of Rogers’ propositions.

Martha E. Rogers was born in 1914 and between 1931 and 1954 received a wide nursing and academic education. After working as a community health nurse she moved into higher education, spending 21 years as Professor and Head of the Division of Nurse Education at New York University. In 1975 she became Professor Emeritus in the same establishment (Falco and Lobo, 1985; Daily et al, 1994). A more detailed exploration of her life history can be found elsewhere (Hektor, 1989) and will also be given later. She died on 13 March 1994, at the age of 79.

Early development of the conceptual framework, the Science of Unitary Human Beings, was first seen in Reveille in Nursing, Rogers’ second book, which was published in 1964. Six years later, in 1970, Rogers published her major work which was entitled An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing.

In the 20 years or so following the publication of An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing, considerable changes have taken place within the conceptual framework to the Science of Unitary Human Beings (Rogers, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1990). It is beyond the scope of this section to chart these changes but it will give the reader the current definitions of the concepts subsumed under the Science of Unitary Human Beings, relating these to earlier definitions where appropriate.




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