University of Tennessee Health Sciences Library and Biocommunications Center

Online Exhibit

Margaret A. Newman: Nurse Theorist

The Health Sciences Historical Collections in the UT Health Sciences Library is proud to announce the opening of the professional papers of Margaret Ann Newman, one of today's foremost nurse theorists. Her papers will serve to document her career-long efforts to explicate the profession of nursing.

The HSHC has approximately 15 shelf feet of Dr. Newman's professional papers, including unpublished papers, notes, correspondence, photographs, awards, and multimedia. The time frame of these papers ranges from 1963 to 1993. They document her evolution as a professional, especially her focus on a unitary-transformative paradigm for the discipline of nursing and on research as a praxis methodology. A copy of the inventory can be downloaded from the HSHC in either a PC or a Mac format.

Composite photograph (left) of the nursing class of 1962, including an enlargement of Margaret Newman's picture (right).

Margaret Newman was aware early of her interest in health care, and considered the merits of nursing and medicine before choosing to enter the program at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing in 1959. She graduated in 1962. It is worth noting two other names important to the CON in this class, Diane Greenhill and Sarah L. Mynatt.

Early in her working career Dr. Newman became aware of the need for an interaction with patients that goes beyond the accumulation of information and data common in the medical setting. Regarding one patient she recalls: "It was hard to explain, then and now, but I knew there was a connecting with the person, and I had been a part of it, and it had made a difference. I knew that the knowledge of nursing was not the summing up of all that information I had collected, but a connecting person with person" (Greenhill, 1998). Her early influences at the University of Tennessee include Grace Wallace, Marie Buckley, Dorothy Hocker, and Dean Ruth Neil Murry.

In 1964 she received her M.S. from the University of California in San Francisco and completed her Ph.D. in nursing from New York University in 1971.

"Dr. Newman's interest in health, movement and time originated in rehabilitation nursing practice. She noticed that individuals confined to bed described time as dragging. This observation was confirmed by studies, which indicated that the degree of physical mobility as well as state of health influenced the perception of time. . . . Rather than focus on health per se, she elaborated on a limited number of phenomena of the life process. Four concepts (movement, time, space, and consciousness) provide a framework from which to view health. Of the four concepts, Newman places the greatest emphasis on consciousness, and describes health as expanded consciousness" (Engle, 1983).

Margaret Newman being admitted to the American Academy of Nursing in 1976 (left) and a stop watch used during motion and time studies (right).

"The point is, very often the words and the methods we have don't address the essence of what we need to know so we look for other methods. I'm happy with this because it's time for nursing to develop its own methods rather than make methods from other disciplines fit nurses' questions" (University of Alberta, n.d.).

Although there has been much competition between nursing theories, Dr. Newman's ideas have found expression not only in the United States, but also in other countries as shown by these 1985 reports from Finland (left) and New Zealand (middle and right).

In the years during and following the completion of her doctorate, she sought expression for work, and found a teacher and mentor in Martha Rogers. She drew on the work and ideas of many theoreticians, including those of Bentov, Prigogine, and Bohm. Her conceptual framework of health was first introduced in her book Theory Development in Nursing (1979), the ideas of which were later formalized into Health as Expanding Consciousness (1986).

On the left is an image of the 1994 edition of Health as Expanding Consciousness. On the right is Dr. Newman with Martha Rogers, teacher and mentor, while in New York in June 1992.

"We are in the process of expanding consciousness and sometimes we don't recognize it because we don't recognize the pattern of our lives and we don't recognize it in the process of illness and disease even though it's there. The important thing is for the nurse to be able to help the person, the client, get on with movement in terms of expanding consciousness . . . ." (University of Alberta, n.d.).

With colleagues in 1993 after receiving the Founders Award from the Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau.

Engle, V.F. Newman's model of health. In: J. Fitzpatrick & A. Whall (Eds.), Conceptual models of nursing: Analysis and application (pp. 263-273). Bowie, MD: Robert J. Brady Co, 1983 pp. 263-73.
Fitzpatrick JJ. Encyclopedia of Nursing. New York: Springer Pub. Co., 1998.
Greenhill ED. From Diploma to Doctorate: 100 Years of Nursing. Memphis, TN: University of Tennessee, 1998.
University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing. The Year of the Ph.D. Program. Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta, n.d.

For more information contact: Richard Nollan

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Revised 4/18/2006