Jean Watson

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Jean Watson is an American nurse theorist and nursing professor who is best known for her Theory of human caring. She is the author of numerous texts, including Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring. Watson's research on caring has been incorporated into education and patient care at hundreds of nursing schools and healthcare facilities across the world.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Watson was born on June 10, 1940 in Williamson, West Virginia. She was the youngest of eight children. She also attended high school in West Virginia. Watson knew she wanted to be a nurse at the age of 10 when she saw a friend of her older sister having a seizure.[2] She later on attended the Lewis Gale School of Nursing located in Roanoke, Virginia, where she graduated in 1961.[3]

Caring theory[edit]

Watson developed the Theory of Human Caring. She founded the non-profit Watson Caring Science Institute in 2008. Theory of Human Caring is patient care that involves a more holistic treatment for patients. As opposed to just using science to care for and heal patients, at the center of the Theory of Human Caring is the idea that being more attentive and conscious during patient interactions allow for more effective and continuous care with a deeper personal connection.[4] Watson's theory was influenced by several philosophers and thinkers including Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, each of whom were pioneers in creating the concept of transpersonal. Watson Defines the idea of transpersonal as "an inter-subjective human-human relationship in which the person of the nurse affects and is affected by the person of the other. Both are fully present in the moment and feel a union with the other."[5] The Four major concepts in the Science of Caring are health, nursing, environment or society, and human being.

  • Health: The connection between the mind, body, and spirit. This concept is dependent upon the likeness of how one is seen versus what they experience.
  • Society: The value that society projects upon people about how they should act or achieve in life.
  • Nursing: The science of human care and health. This involves interactions with individuals that have an active role in patient care and those that are being taken care of.
  • Human Being: A person that is valued, respected, and cared for. They are seen as fully functional and whole.[6]

Academic appointments[edit]

Watson is a Distinguished Professor of Nursing at the University of Colorado,[7] where she served as Dean of Nursing.

Leadership achievements[edit]

She is a past president of the National League for Nursing.[8]

Honors and awards[edit]

Watson has been awarded ten honorary doctoral degrees, including eight international honorary doctoral degrees. She has received numerous awards including:

  • Fetzer Institute Norman Cousins Award
  • Fullbright Research Award[9]
  • 2013: American Academy of Nursing – inducted as ‘Living Legend’[10]


Watson, Jean (2003). Inside Stories: Tales of Change and Growth. Lion UK. ISBN 0745948162.
Bevis, Em Olivia; Watson, Jean (2000). Toward a Caring Curriculum: A New Pedagogy for Nursing. Jones and Bartlett. ISBN 0745948162.
Watson, Jean (1979). Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring. Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 0316924644.


  1. ^ "Global Caring Connections". CU College of Nursing. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  2. ^ Nameth, Lynne (Fall 2010). "An Interview with Jean Watson". Beginnings – via University of Oklahoma Libraries.
  3. ^ Wayne, Gil (January 19, 2017). "Jean Watson". Nurseslabs.
  4. ^ Fawcett, Jacqueline (July 2002). "The Nurse Theorists: 21st Century—Jean Watson". Nursing Science Quarterly. 15.
  5. ^ Clark, Carey (April 2016). "Watson's Human Caring Theory: Pertinent Transpersonal and Humanities Concepts for Educators". Humanities. 5.
  6. ^ Gonzalo, Angelo (April 26, 2019). "Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring". Nurseslabs.
  7. ^ "14th International IONS Conference". Institute of Noetic Sciences. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  8. ^ "A salute to NLN members" (PDF). p. 2.
  9. ^ "JEAN WATSON TO SPEAK ON CARING SCIENCE". University of Wyoming.
  10. ^ "Living Legends". American Academy of Nursing.