Luther Christman

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Luther P. Christman, PhD, RN, FAAN
Luther Christman photo from 1980.jpg
Christman in 1980
Born February 26, 1915
Summit Hill, Pennsylvania
Died June 7, 2011(2011-06-07) (aged 96)
Nashville, Tennessee
Education Michigan State University
Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute
Temple University
Occupation Registered nurse
University professor

Luther Parmalee Christman (February 26, 1915 – June 7, 2011) was an American nurse, professor of nursing, university administrator and advocate for gender and racial diversity in nursing. His career included service with the Michigan Department of Mental Health and academic posts at the University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University and Rush University. In 1967, Christman became the first man to hold the position of dean at a nursing school.

While serving as vice president for nursing affairs at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Christman implemented the Rush Model of Nursing, an influential model for delivering hospital nursing services. He was involved in the founding of the National Male Nurse Association, which later became the American Assembly for Men in Nursing. After his 1987 retirement, Christman received several awards and honors for his contributions to nursing. He died in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2011.



Christman earned a diploma from the Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing for Men in 1939. He received an undergraduate degree from Temple University in 1948, then an Ed.M. degree in clinical psychology from the Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute. He completed a Ph.D. from Michigan State University, where he studied anthropology and sociology.[1] Christman overcame gender discrimination during his own education; he was refused admission to two university nursing programs because he was male. While a nursing student, he was denied a maternity clinical rotation for the same reason.[2]


Christman said that he faced hostility from female coworkers early in his career, and that night shift positions in psychiatric nursing and urology were virtually the only openings for men.[3] Christman was denied admission to the U.S. Army Nurse Corps on the basis of his gender;[2] instead, he served in the U.S. Maritime Service as a pharmacist's mate during World War II. After returning from the war, Christman worked as a private duty nurse and assistant head nurse at Pennsylvania Hospital. After completing his Ed.M., he became director of nursing at Yankton State Hospital in South Dakota.[4]

In 1956, Christman went to work for the Michigan Department of Mental Health. In that position, he coordinated nursing school training at hospitals in the state. Christman was named associate professor of psychiatric nursing at the University of Michigan in 1963.[1] In 1967, he assumed a dual role as nursing school dean at Vanderbilt University and director of nursing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In 1972, he took on similar responsibilities at Rush University and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center. While Christman was at Rush, the school and hospital implemented the Rush Model of Nursing. The model highlighted the importance of clinical expertise among faculty members, which was similar to the established practice in medicine. His faculty practice model required that nursing professors spend most of their time in clinical practice. He retired in 1987.[5]

During his career, Christman advocated for the advancement of nursing education. In the late 1960s, Christman predicted increased specialization in the next generation of nurses; he advocated for nurses to be freed of non-clinical tasks so that they could keep up with the nursing demands in an increasingly technological environment.[6] In a 1978 presentation in Australia, he argued against systems which utilized a combination of registered nurses, nurse aides and student nurses; he highlighted statistics which showed that nurse aides were unoccupied up to 25 percent of the typical work day.[7] Christman served multiple terms as president of the Michigan Nurses Association and he proposed the idea that led to the founding of the American Academy of Nursing.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Edith Moore Copeland Founders Award for Creativity, Sigma Theta Tau (1981)
  • Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award (first recipient), Sigma Theta Tau (1991)
  • Living Legend, American Academy of Nursing (1995)[8]
  • American Nurses Association (ANA) Hall of Fame (2004)[9]

Later life[edit]

Even after his retirement, Christman remained an active participant in nursing affairs for many years. He died of pneumonia on June 7, 2011 in Nashville. He was predeceased by his wife, Dorothy Black, in 2003. They had married in 1939 and had three children.[2]


In 1975, the American Assembly for Men in Nursing established the Luther Christman Award.[10] The award recognizes "an individual or individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to nursing that also reflects highly on men in nursing or significantly contributes to the purposes of this organization."[10] In 2007, the American Nurses Association introduced a separate Luther Christman Award which "recognizes the significant contribution an individual man has made to the nursing profession."[11]

Selected works[edit]

  • Christman, Luther (November 1, 1965). "Nurse-Physician Communications in the Hospital". Journal of the American Medical Association. 194 (5): 539. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090180063015. 
  • Christman, Luther (October 1967). "Nursing Leadership - Style and Substance". American Journal of Nursing. 67 (10). 
  • Christman, Luther (May 1970). "The Clinical Nurse Specialist: A Role Model". American Journal of Nursing. 
  • Christman, Luther (October 1974). "On The Horizon: The All-R.N. Nursing Staff". Nursing Digest. 2 (8). 
  • Christman, Luther (March–April 1979). "The Practitioner-Teacher". Nurse Educator. 

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dr. Luther Christman, Nursing Pioneer, Passes Away at 96". University of Michigan School of Nursing. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Jordan, Zoe (July–September 2011). "Remembering a Nursing Icon: Luther Christman (1915–2011)". PACEsetterS. 8 (3): 15–16. doi:10.1097/01.jbi.0000405537.66667.b4. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ Markoutsas, Elaine (January 9, 1979). "Medicine: Sex Roles Are Changing Slowly... But Changing". The Evening Independent. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Proud of Our Past, Preparing for Our Future:A History of the Michigan Nurses Association, 1904-2004. Turner Publishing Company. 2004. p. 52. 
  5. ^ Palmer, Jane (June 23, 2011). "Luther Christman: Legacy of a Legend". Reflections on Nursing Leadership. 37 (2). Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ "New Breed of Nurses Seen". Spokane Daily Chronicle. April 2, 1968. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ McIlraith, Shaun (March 21, 1978). "US Trend to Graduate-Only Nurses". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Living Legends". American Academy of Nursing. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  9. ^ "ANA Hall of Fame: 2000-2004 Inductees". Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Awards: Luther Christman Award". American Assembly for Men in Nursing. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Luther Christman Award". American Nurses Association. Retrieved March 21, 2013.