Martha Elizabeth Rogers (1914-1994) 1996 Inductee

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Martha Rogers
ANA Hall of Fame Inductee

Widely known for her discovery of the science of unitary human beings, Martha E. Rogers provided a framework for continued study and research, and influenced the development of a variety of modalities, including therapeutic touch. Over a long and productive career, she demonstrated leadership skill and a futuristic vision that improved nursing education, practice, and research in the United States and internationally.

Born in Dallas, Texas, on May 12, 1914, Rogers was the eldest of four children of Bruce and Lucy M. Keener Rogers. After attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville from 1931 to 1933, Rogers entered the Knoxville General Hospital School of Nursing, receiving her diploma in 1936, and earned a bachelor of science degree from George Peabody College, Nashville, in 1937. She was employed as a public health nurse in Michigan from 1937 to 1939, and as a member of the staff of the Hartford, Connecticut Visiting Nurses Association from 1940 to 1945.

After receiving a master of arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1945, she accepted the position of executive director of the Phoenix Visiting Nurse Association in Arizona, where she remained for six years. In 1952, she received a master's degree in public health and in 1954, a doctor of science degree, both from Johns Hopkins University. In 1954, Rogers was appointed professor of nursing and head of the Division of Nursing at New York University. Committed to baccalaureate education for nurses, Rogers opposed continued use of curricula based on a medical model and recommended that nursing faculty be prepared at the doctoral level.

Over the next twenty-one years, Rogers initiated curriculum revisions, theory based learning, and the establishment of a five-year bachelor of science degree program at New York University. During the same period, she developed the theory she identified as "a paradigm for nursing -- the science of unitary human beings," and conducted "philosophical and theoretical investigations of the nature and direction of unitary human development."

A proponent of rigorous scientific study, Rogers wrote three books that enriched the learning experience and influenced the direction of nursing research for countless students: Educational Revolution in Nursing (1961), Reveille in Nursing (1964), and An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing (1970), the last of which introduced the four Rogerian Principles of Homeodynamics. Following her retirement in 1975, Rogers continued to teach at New York University, was a frequent presenter at scientific conferences throughout the world, and consistently worked to refine her conceptual system. Rogers was also actively involved in professional nursing organizations and associations concerned with education and scholarship. She was honored with numerous awards and citations for her sustained contributions to nursing and science.