Last Updated 21 Mar 2021

Biography of Martha Rogers

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Born on May 12, 1914, Martha Elizabeth Rogers shares the same birthday with Florence Nightingale. Her passion for nursing persisted in 1933 and she received the degree in 1936. Although this was not her first line of choice in pursuit of a career, still she managed to enter a nursing school at Knoxville General Hospital. Her continuing desire in the nursing field had given her several achievements in different schools. For one, she attained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Health Nursing at George Peabody College in Nashville, subsequently becoming a Public Health Nurse at the University of Michigan in 1937.

She continued her professional studies of Master’s Degree in Teacher’s College Columbia University New York. Soon after, she became a public health nurse in Hartford, CT afterwards, an acting Director of Education. After having a good position in her job as the Executive Director of the first Visiting Nurse Service in Phoenix, AZ, she further fortified her knowledge at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in 1951. In 1954, Martha Rogers took the place of Head of the Division of Nursing at New York University and edited a journal called Nursing Science in 1963.

There were certain affirmations that during this time Rogers were already formulating ideas for her third book An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing (cited in Rogers, 1970). For 21 years, Rogers served as the Professor and Head of the Division of Nursing. Although she retired from service, she continued to serve her role in the development of nursing and of the ideology concerning the Science of Unitary Human Beings until her passing on March 13, 1994 (Martha E. Rogers: A Short Biography, 2008).

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Science of Unitary Human Beings

Dramatically, the progress of Science of Unitary Humans Beings occurred in Europe. Some of the aspects of that improved are the nursing process, quality assurance, primary nursing, and nursing models included in the theory. However, the prevalent progress does not exhibit its full nature rather remains obscure. Primarily, the principle of Martha Roger’s theory is based on non-predominant aspect of nursing practice, research, and education.

According to Smith (1989), Rogers’ perspective on nursing practice is “guided out of a concrete, static, closed system world view.” In other terms, it is seen as reductionist, analytic, and mechanistic (Biley, 1990). These ideologies did not prevail as traditional means to deliver care but challenged nursing preexisting ideas. Moreover, the ideology of Roger’s has been at a perspective contradicting the overall aspect of care.

Mainly, the Science of Unitary Human Beings covers a vast array of subjects from anthropology, mathematics, astronomy, Einsteinian, and philosophy. Hence, many believe that Rogers concept demand a wider range of knowledge incomparable to what Nursing has. They call it an “outrageous nursing theory” (cited in Thompson, 1990) because its complexity derives those to difficult comprehensive ideology. Nonetheless, Martha Rogers is vied as a genius, as she is referred to as “a brilliant nurse theorist” and “one of the most original thinkers of nursing.” (Daily et al., 1989).

Significantly, the foundation of Rogers concept, seen in her 1970 book, lays five basic assumptions on man and his life processes. First is Openness, wherein a human being perceived as a whole is a sum more than different of the other parts. Second is Unidirectionality, describing life processes occurring in an irreversible space-time continuum. Third is Pattern and Organization that characterizes individuals through progressive reflection of their entirety. Finally, is Sentience and Thought, which speaks of life, particularly human beings, capable of abstraction and imagery, language and thought, and sensation and emotion (Rogers, 1970).

Notably, the theory expanded into the four critical elements, namely energy fields, open systems, patterns, and pandimensionality (cited in Rogers, 1986). Initially, energy fields were described as "fundamental unit of the living and the non-living" comprised of the human and environment energy field. Consequently, the human field is irreducible, indivisible, and has a pan dimensional energy identified by pattern but is specific to whole (cited in Rogers, 1991). On the other hand, the environmental field is expressed as integral with the human field. In effect, environmental field specifies itself with the human field.

Subsequently, there is Rogers’ Open systems critical element. In this area, it is described that the open nature of fields is where the interchange of energy and matter exists. In other terms, there is a continuous process inside regardless of energy and matter. The third element is Pattern, which gives insight to the characteristic of the energy field uniquely perceived as a single wave. For instance, is human behavior, a factor of human being that constantly changes; hence, identifying an individual. Another is a pattern constantly changing in the body that may signify a disease, pain or illness. Finally is the critical element called pan dimensionality, which is according to Rogers (1991), “a nonlinear domain without spatial or temporal attributes.”

Focusing on this theory, many have remained inconclusive, undetermined, and still incomplete. Although it seems genuinely brilliant, the theory exists as impossible, yet, structuralizes the nursing concept in a depth. Moreover, factors remaining in sight of Science of Unitary of Human Beings somehow do not coincide with the nursing process, even in educational or health care service. Hence, the theory still serves alienation from the nursing profession. Even if it is significant, many find it difficult to understand and implement.


  1. Biley, F. (1990). Theory: An overview of the Science of Unitary Human Beings. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from
  2. Hektor LM (1989). Martha E Rogers: A Life History. Nursing Science Quarterly 2; 2, 63-73.
  3. Rogers ME (1970). An introduction to the theoretical basis of nursing. F A Davis, Philadelphia.
  4. Martha E. Rogers: A Short Biography. (2008). Retrieved on February 27, 2008


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