Martha Elizabeth Rogers, Class of 1936

Martha Rogers, 79, An Author of Books On Nursing Theory

Dr. Martha E. Rogers, a nursing administrator at New York University for 20 years who helped establish nursing as a profession with responsibilities apart from traditional medical care, died on Sunday at her home in Phoenix. She was 79.She died of pulmonary failure complicated by emphysema, said her brother-in-law, J. Paul Coleman of Johnson City, Tenn.

In her book “An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing” (1970), Dr. Rogers drew on many disciplines, including psychology, sociology, biology, history and literature, to postulate a humanistic nursing science. She termed it “a unified concept of human functioning” basic to understanding and treating people.

Treating the Whole Person

While physicians respond to the immediate medical condition of a patient, “nursing is concerned with evaluating the simultaneous state of the individual (or group) and the environment and the preceding configuration leading up to the present,” she wrote.

While much of her work is considered complex if not abstract and the subject of scores of academic articles, her theories led to numerous studies evaluating patients beyond the traditional scope of medical treatment, such as determining the agitation of bed-ridden patients by observing arm and leg movements and the role of nursing in dealing with hyperactive children.

Dr. Rogers was a strong advocate of rebuilding nursing education programs by replacing the hospital training of nurses, where she received her early training, with university studies, which she was later to head at New York University from 1954 to 1975.

After taking science courses from 1931 to 1933 at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Rogers, who was born in Dallas, received a nursing diploma from the Knoxville General Hospital School of Nursing in Tennessee in 1936. She graduated from George Peabody College in Nashville in 1937.

In the mid-1940’s, she established the first visiting nurse service in Arizona, one of the first in the nation. In 1945 she received a master’s degree in nursing supervision from Teachers College of Columbia University and in 1952 she received a master’s of public health and two years later a doctor of science, both from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Rogers’s books, including “Nursing: A Science of Unitary Man” (1980) and “Science of Unitary Human Beings: A Paradigm for Nursing” (1983), are standard works for advanced nursing students.

She is survived by two sisters, Laura R. Wilhite of Knoxville and Jane R. Coleman of Johnson City, Tenn.

Source:  The New York Times, March 18, 1994, Late Edition РFinal, Section B, Page 8, Column 4

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