Martha E. Rogers

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Martha Elizabeth Rogers (May 12, 1914 – March 13, 1994) was an American nurse, researcher, theorist, and author. Rogers developed the Science of Unitary Human Beings, which she described in her book An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing.


Early life and education[edit]

She was born in Dallas, Texas, the oldest of four children of Bruce Taylor Rogers and Lucy Mulholland Keener Rogers. She began college at the University of Tennessee, studying pre-med (1931-1933) and withdrew due to pressure that medicine was an unsuitable career for a woman. She received a diploma from the Knoxville General Hospital School of Nursing in 1936. The following year she received an undergraduate degree in public health nursing at George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee.[1] She received an M.A. in public health nursing from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1945, an M.P.H. in 1952 and a Sc.D. in 1954, both from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.


She specialized in public health nursing, working in Michigan, Connecticut, and Arizona, where she established the Visiting Nurse Service of Phoenix, Arizona. Between 1952 and 1975, she was Professor and Head of the Division of Nursing at New York University; she was recognized as Professor Emeritus in 1979.[1]


She died March 13, 1994 and is buried in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1996, she was posthumously inducted into the American Nurses Association's Hall of Fame.[2]

Nursing theory[edit]

Rogers' theory is known as the Science of Unitary Human Beings. Its primary tenets include the following:[3]

  • Nursing is both a science and art; the uniqueness of nursing, like that of any other science, lies in the phenomenon central to its focus.
  • Nurses long established concern with the people and the world they live is in a natural forerunner of an organized abstract system encompassing people and the environments.
  • The irreducible nature of individuals is different from the sum of the parts.
  • The integralness of people and the environment that coordinate with a multidimensional universe of open systems points to a new paradigm: the identity of nursing as a science.
  • The purpose of nurses is to promote health and wellbeing for all persons wherever they are.


  • Educational Revolution in Nursing (1961)
  • Reveille in Nursing (1964)
  • An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing (1970)


  1. ^ a b Tomey, A. M. & Alligood, M. R. (1998). Nursing Theorists and Their Work, 4th ed. Boston: Mosby
  2. ^ American Nurses Association
  3. ^ Rogers, M. E. (1989). An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis

External links[edit]