Historical Timeline of Nursing Theorists

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RUNNING HEAD: Historical Development of Nursing Timeline 1

Historical Development of Nursing Timeline
Jill Dawson, BSN, RN, IBCLC
May 7, 2012
Kynthia James

Historical Development of Nursing 2
The historical development of nursing has transformed over the years since the beginning writings of Florence Nightingale originating in 1859. Although she did not publish her work as nursing theory, Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing is presented as the first nursing theory and has directed practice for the past 150 years (George, 2011). Across this span of time, there have been dozens of theorists who have published work complementing the evolution of nursing as both a profession and a science.

Despite Nightingale’s identification as the most famous name in nursing (Ellis, 2010), the first recognized theory of nursing was not published until 1952, by Hildegard Peplau (McCrae, 2012). Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations in Nursing was completed in 1948 and emphasized the nurse as the change agent for patients healing rather than physical treatments or organization of services (McCrae, 2012). In this theory, she “described an interactional process relevant to all nurses” (p. 223) that consists of four steps; orientation, identification, exploitation, and resolution (McCrae, 2012). Similarly, Virginia Henderson identified that nursing is a response to functional needs of humans and equated health with independence. She describes 14 fundamental needs of humans and also intended her theory to apply to any spectrum of care giving (McCrae, 2012). These 14 components guide nurses in identifying areas where patients lack the ability to meet certain personal needs (George, 2011).

During the 1960’s, the focus of theoretical nursing shifted from a problem and need focus to that of the relationship between nurse and patient, looking at “how nurses do what they do and how the patient perceives his situation” (George, 2011, p. 10). One prominent theorist debuting in this decade was Ida Jean Orlando, who described nursing as a disciplined process initiated by Historical Development of Nursing 3 the patient’s behavior. Another theorist introduced the initial patient-centered care approach; Faye G. Abdellah identified 21 nursing problem areas for patients vital to growth and functioning but may require support from nurses in times of limitation because of illness (George, 2011). In 1965, the American Nurses Association published a paper stating the publications’ position regarding nursing education which forever transformed the landscape of nursing. This document recommended two different levels of education for nursing: technical nurses educated at the associate degree level and professional nurses educated at the baccalaureate level, which in turn created the availability of federal monies for doctoral level study for nurse educators (George, 2011). This set of doctoral prepared nurses paved the way to the next decade of nurse theorists.

During the 1970’s, many of the nursing theories first presented have been revised repeatedly after original publications (George, 2011). In 1978, a journal focusing on the science of nursing published its first edition, Advances in Nursing Science, which included the construction, analysis, and application of theoretical nursing and quickly provided an avenue for the discussion and debate regarding theoretical thinking in nursing (George, 2011). Theory matriarchs like Dorothea E. Orem debuted with three theories that focused on self-care or the ability of patients to meet daily requirements, and the relationship between nurses aiding in the return of patients ability to provide independent self-care after illness. Self-care is the foundation for human beings to be independent after a health insult and Orem’s theory revolutionized the nursing approach to patient care and directed the focus on education and assisting patients to return to his or her independent...
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