Historical Development of Nursing Timeline

This paper discusses a timeline of the development of nursing science history starting with Florence Nightingale to present times. Florence Nightingale will always be associated with nursing, regardless how the field of nursing changes. Significant historical events to include dates which have enhanced the field of nursing will be discussed. Over the past century, the field of nursing has been positively impacted by numerous theories. (Kendall, 2011). Florence Nightingale, worked to improve conditions of soldiers in the Crimean War (1854), and she is known for laying the foundation for professional nursing (Kendall, 2011).

Statistical charts and graphs were utilized by Florence Nightingale for the support of her theory as the first nursing theory (Donahue, 1996). For example, her theory related to a positive, clean environment. In 1859, Florence Nightingale published a small book called Notes on Nursing, relating to how to take care of babies (Florence Nightingale).

Florence Nightingale was responsible for providing a new image for female nurses as a profession. She opened the Nightingale School of Nursing, the first formal nurse training program (Brestovansky, 2014).

For example, the Nightingale Training School was opened in 1860, and modern nursing was created (Florence Nightingale). She also reformed midwife practices and established a health visitor service in Britain (Brestovansky, 2014). The 1950’s introduced theorists such as Orem and Peplau, and the existence of psychological theories entered during this century (Kiikkala and Munnukka, 2006). For example, the patient’s needs were a focus of the theories related to psychology.

The self-care theory related to a goal of a person caring for themselves.

And if they are not self-deficit, a nurse will be expected to care for the individual (Kiikkala and Munnukka, 2006). During this same period of the 1950’s, a developmental theory was developed that related to nursing and interpersonal relationships (Kiikkala and Munnukka, 2006). Peplau’s theory regarded nursing as interpersonal because of a common goal between two or more people (2011). This common goal contributed to a mutual respect between the patient and nurse (Peplau, 2011). Nursing Theory Timelines (Development of Nursing, 2013).

1860- Florence Nightingale: Manipulating the client’s environment facilitates the body’s reparative processes. 1952- Hildegard Peplau: Nursing is a therapeutic interpersonal process. 1955- Henderson: The needs often called Henderson’s 14 basic needs. 1960- Faye Abdellah: The nursing theory describes delivering of nursing care for the whole person. It relates to the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual needs of the client and family. 1962- Ida Orlando: The client is an individual that has a need. When met distress diminishes, adequacy increases, or enhances well-being. 1968- Dorothy Johnson’s theory of nursing focuses on the client’s adaption to illness. It also focuses on how actual or potential stress can affect the ability to adapt. The focus of the goal is on nursing to reduce stress.

Therefore, the client can move more easily through recovery. 1970- Martha Rogers Theory: Health Promotion wellness, prevention of illness, and rehabilitation of the ill and disabled client through “humanistic science of nursing 1971-Dorothea Orem: The theory is about a self-care deficit theory. Nursing care becomes necessary when the client is unable to fulfill biological, psychological, developmental, or social needs. 1971- Imogene King: Communication can assist the individual reestablish positive adaptation to environment. 1972- Betty Neumann: The goal of system model of nursing practice is stress reduction . 1979- Roy Callista: The adaptation model is based on the physiological, psychological, sociological and dependence-independence adaptive modes. 1979- Watson’s Theory: Watson’s philosophy defines the outcome of nursing activity in regard to the; humanistic aspects of life. The 1990’s-2000’s consists of numerous research studies which test and expand nursing theory (History of Nursing Science, 2013). The late 20th century continued to expand research studies and nursing theories.

Practice orientation was the focus in the late 20th century which continues today Nursing Science and Profession Relationship

Nursing science and the profession have been seen as complex for numerous years (Lindberg, 2005). According to Lindberg, the complexity of the healthcare system, increased technology, and the speed of care provided are contributors to the complexity of nursing science and the professional relationship. Science provides an increasing flow of contributions to the nursing care delivery which enhances the professional relationship (Lindberg, 2005). It is vital for nursing scholars and leaders to get involved in the new science for insights that will enable nurses to enhance the well-being of patients (Lindberg, 2005). For example, nurses play a central role in health care; a complex system, and they interact with numerous elements of the system. These elements involve patients, families, physicians, communities and public health agencies according to Lindberg (2005).

Influences on Nursing Science of Other Disciplines

The disciplines of philosophy, religion, education, anthropology, social sciences and psychology positively impact nursing (History of Nursing Science, 2013). According to The History of Nursing Science (2013), the individuals impacted by these disciplines are the ones who deliver nursing practice.


The roles of nurses continue to expand, and theories are used to improve quality of care. A time line of important events in the field of nursing which. has contributed to the profession has been discussed. Nursing is committed to serve the healthcare needs of society. Throughout history, nursing has shown the uniqueness of the profession. The nursing practice benefits daily from the interaction with other disciplines. Numerous positive outcomes have occurred throughout the decades with the use of theories for the enhancement of the quality of patient care.


Brestovansky, L (2014). A history in nursing. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/about_5364906_history-nursing.html Development of Nursing Theories (2013). Retrieved from http://www.currentnursing.com/nursing_theory/development_of_nursing_theories.html Donahue, P. A. (1996). Nursing: The Finest Art (2nd ed.). St. Louis: Mosby. Nightingale, F. Timeline part 2:1850-1901. Retrieved from

Kendall, C. (2010). Nursing history theory and timeline. Retrieved from



Kiikkala PhD, I., & Munnukka PhD, T. (2006). Nursing Research: On What Basis?

[Entire issue]. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 19(2). doi: 10.1111/j.1365-

2648.1994. tb01087.x

Lindberg, C. (2005). Complexity: The science of the 21st century. Retrieved from https://stti.confex.com/stti/bcscience38/techprogram/paper_25908.htm

Peplau, H. (2011). Theory of interpersonal relationships.. Retrieved from http://nursingtheories.weebly.com/hildegard-e-peplau.html The History of Nursing Theory (2013). Retrieved from

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