Martha E. Rogers, the creation of the SUHB
Martha E. Rogers’ creation of the Science of Unitary Human Beings (SUHB) theory allowed nursing to be considered one of the scientific disciplines. Rogers provided a framework for nursing study and research
that improved nursing education, practice and research in the United States. She was born in 1914, attended the University of Tennessee until 1933 and then entered the Knoxville General Hospital School of Nursing. In 1936, she finished nursing school and earned a BSN degree from George Peabody College the following year. Rogers decided to work for several years as a public health nurse before pursuing a graduate degree. She actually earned two master’s degrees, one in teaching and one in public health. However, Rogers did not stop at a master’s level but instead continued her education by obtaining a doctor of science degree. In 1954, she became a professor of nursing at New York University (NYU) where she remained for 21 years (Nursing World). While at NYU, Rogers revised curriculums, theory based learning and established a five year BSN degree program. During her years at NYU, she also developed the conceptual framework for the SUHB, which presented a new way of viewing human interaction and the nursing process (American Association for the History of nursing).
Martha Rogers’ SUHB theory offers a new look at nursing, providing a framework for practice, education and research that moves away from the traditional medical model approach to the delivery of nursing care (Barrett, 2000). Rogers’ framework allows for an alternative to traditional nursing, which can be construed as reductionistic, mechanistic and analytic. This framework includes an open system world view, and thus, has challenged many traditional ideas about nursing.
Five basic assumptions underlay Rogers’ conceptual framework: wholeness, openness, unidirectionality, pattern and organization, and sentience and thought (Barrett, 2000). First, the human being is considered a unified whole which is more than the sum of its parts. Second, the person and the environment are continuously exchanging matter and energy with each other. Third, the life process exists along an irreversible space time continuum. Fourth, pattern and organization are used to identify individuals and mirror their wholeness. Fifth, human beings are the only organisms able to think abstractly, have language, sensation and emotion.
There are four main topics that are addressed by nursing theorists: people, the environment, health and nursing. Rogers’ conceptual framework can be analyzed using these four topics. The way that these subjects are viewed affects the nature of nursing that the SUHB theory describes (Barrett, 2000). A Person is defined by Rogers as a being and energy field in constant interaction with the environment. A person is an open system, more than the sum of its parts. The environment is an energy field including everything that is not the person. Next, health is viewed in terms of choosing actions that lead to the fulfillment of a person’s potential, and lastly, nursing tries to direct the interaction of the person and the environment in order to maximize health potential.
Martha Rogers’ theory has three principles of homeodynarnic. First, Integrality a human energy and environmental energy are integrated, one affects the other. Second, Helicy is all energy patterns are continuous and unpredictable providing increasing diversity. Lastly, Resonance is a continuous change in energy fields from lower to higher frequency patterning which is best represented by our wake-sleep cycles.
Martha Rogers’ development of the Science of Unitary Human Beings has become an influential nursing theory in the United States. When first introduced it was considered radical, and difficult to understand, but now is simply thought to be ahead of its time. This conceptual framework has greatly influenced all facets of nursing by offering an alternative to traditional approaches of nursing.