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Martha Rogers

Updated on September 13, 2014

Martha Rogers: Nursing Theorist

Dr Martha Elizabeth Rogers was a visionary thinker. She was a nurse, a researcher, a theorist, a teacher, and a writer.

In 1970, she published "The Science of Unitary Man" which revolutionized nursing. Her nursing theories, as put forth, were a new way of thinking about human beings, and about how human beings interact with each other and the environment around them.

These same theories are being explored today through the science of physics. I have discussed Martha Rogers' "Science of Unitary Man" more thoroughly elsewhere.

This is Martha Rogers' story.

Martha Rogers: Education

Dr Roger's Early Years

Martha Elizabeth Rogers was born on May 12th, 1914 in Dallas, Texas, the oldest of four children. Her family greatly valued education and she was encouraged in this.

The family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee at some point in her early years. There, in 1931, she began undergraduate studies in pre-med science at the University of Tennessee with a goal towards entering medical school. She was discouraged from this, however, due to her gender and entered nursing school at Knoxville General Hospital instead, receiving her nursing diploma in 1936. She completed a BSN in Public Health Nursing from George Peabody College (Nashville) in l937.

She received a MA from Teacher's College Columbia University in 1945.

This did not keep her from her desire to learn though and she eventually entered Johns Hopkins University. She obtained her Masters in Public Health in 1951. In 1954, she completed her Sc.D. at Johns Hopkins University. While at Johns Hopkins she taught for a year at Catholic University.

Martha Rogers was one of the first nurses in the USA to obtain a Master's Degree and then a Doctorate.

I took the science-med course. It was more substantial ...

and included more science and maths.

~ Martha Rogers

Martha Rogers' Work

Martha Rogers Public Health Nurse and Educator

When Martha Rogers obtained her BSN she entered public health nursing and worked in rural Michigan for 2 years.

After receiving a MA she first worked in Hartford, Connecticut where she advanced from staff nurse to acting Director of Education. From there she went to Phoenix, Arizona where she established the Visiting Nurse's Program and served as director until she returned east to continue her education at Johns Hopkins University.

She received her ScD from Johns Hopkins in 1954 and was appointed Head of the Division of Nursing Education at New York University. She remained there for another 21 years, retiring in 1975. Her strong background in science helped to develop the nursing program at NYU as a distinct body of scientific knowledge.

In 1979 Dr Rogers was made Professor Emeritis at NYU.

Retirement did not slow Martha Rogers down at all and she continued to lecture around the world on the Science of Unitary Human Beings as well as helping to develop and expand the nursing program at NYU.

Books on Martha Rogers and The Science of Unitary Man from Amazon - Some are still in print

Many of the books written by and about Dr Rogers are no longer available or are difficult to locate. These are a few that I have found.

Explorations on Martha Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings
Explorations on Martha Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings
This book is the best anthology published about the Rogerian principles applied in Nursing practice. It's very useful to nurses who intend to work with Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings. Ana Cristina de Sa, RN, MSN, PhD candidate, University of Sao Paulo - Brazi
Martha E Rogers: Her Life and Her Work
Martha E Rogers: Her Life and Her Work
City University of New York. Professional and personal history of contemporary pioneer, Martha Rogers, her contributions to nursing education and nursing research and her theories on space nursing and the Science of Unitary Beings. 9 U.S. contributors. DNLM: Rogers, Martha E.

"I thought nursing was a knowledgeable endeavor, and that nurses should be baccalaureate prepared and more. We exercised freedom and autonomy. We were responsible for our own acts. We were never accountable to other disciplines; that accountability would have jeopardized our autonomous position"

- Martha Rogers

Publications by Dr Rogers

Martha Rogers wrote extensively on nursing sciences.

She also edited a nursing science journal in the early 1960s and was on the editorial board for Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science from its inception in 1993 until her death in 1994.

  • Rogers, M.E. (1961). Educational revolution in nursing. New York: Macmillan.
  • Rogers, M.E. (1963). Some comments on the theoretical basis of nursing practice. Nursing Science, 1(1), 11-13, 60-61.
  • Rogers, M.E. (1964). Reveille in nursing. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.
  • Rogers, M.E. (1970). An introduction to the theoretical basis of nursing. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.
  • Rogers, M.E. (1980a). Nursing: A science of unitary man. In J.P. Riehl & C. Roy (Eds.), Conceptual models for nursing practice (2nd ed., pp. 329-337). New York: Appleton‑Century‑Crofts.
  • Rogers, M.E. (1980b). Science of unitary man. Tape I. Unitary man and his world: A paradigm for nursing. New York: Media for Nursing. [Audiotape.]
  • Rogers, M.E. (1980c). Science of unitary man. Tape II. Developing an organized abstract system: Synthesis of facts and ideas for a new product. New York: Media for Nursing. [Audiotape.]
  • Rogers, M.E. (1980d). Science of unitary man. Tape III. Principles and theories: Directions for description, explanation and prediction. New York: Media for Nursing. [Audiotape.]

Martha Rogers Speaks - Listen in as Dr Rogers talks about The Theory of Universal Human Beings

I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Dr Rogers before her death. She was a remarkable woman.

Ursa Major

Ursa Major
Ursa Major
gravestone of Martha E Rogers
gravestone of Martha E Rogers

Martha Rogers and the stars above

Dr Rogers' work continues even after her death

Martha E. Rogers died March 13, 1994. She remained active in several nursing organizations, lectured, and was on the editorial board of Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science until then.

In Ursa Major, there is a star (RA 9h 33m 56s D 48° 9') named after Martha E. Rogers. This star is an enduring symbol of the luminous glow of her life and contribution to nursing serving as a beacon illuminating all that nursing is and aspires to be.

Your words

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      All nursing theorist should be given due recognition because they are those who are behind the success of nursing practice. I believe that through their efforts, our profession was given a deeper meaning and relevance.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Martha Rogers was a great pioneer in the nursing profession. Her teachings shaped a lot of our careers! Beautiful tribute!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      9 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Nicely done. I had never heard of her before.

    • norma-holt profile image


      9 years ago

      Very inspirational story, thank you.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      10 years ago from Scotland

      I knew a little, but this was wonderful. thankyou

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Read her before so it is very enlightening to read about her. Thanks.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Love reading about women who have made a difference in our lives. I enjoyed getting to know more about Martha Rogers.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      How did I miss this lens until now? Great job. Lensrolling to Operating Room Nurses.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Always good to see excellent lenses of women. ***** to you. Have time, you might enjoy my lens: Margaret C Smith.

    • religions7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens, but you knew that :) Just wanted to remind you that this is featured on the Consciousness, Awareness, Psychology & Neurology Headquarters

      It's now transformed into a lensography and I would love it if you could show your appreciation by featuring it here, or lensrolling it or something.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      ang galing

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Thank you for submitting this lens to the SquidWho: Science, Medicine & Technology group! *****

    • religions7 profile image


      11 years ago

      Well done indeed. I'm sorry, I meant to accept this lens in the consciousness and awareness group. Please submit this lens again.

    • patinkc profile image


      11 years ago from Midwest

      I love lenses about women who shape the world!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      11 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Very well done. I learned a lot from this lens about Martha Rogers and I always enjoy learning about fascinating, interesting people who have made a difference in this world of ours. Thank you.


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