Ida Jean Orlando was an outstanding nursing theorist who developed the deliberative
nursing process that changed the way that nurses interact with their patients. Her
theory was presented in her 1961 book, The Dynamic Nurse-Patient Relationship: Function,
Process and Principles. Reprinted in 1990 by the National League for Nurses, the book
has been translated into more than 12 languages.
Early Life and Education
Ida Jean Orlando came from a humble background. Her parents, Nicholas and Antoinette
Orlando, were Italian immigrants who followed the tradition of having an arranged
marriage. Ida Jean was born on August 12, 1926, the fourth of six children. She was
born in New Jersey, but the family later moved to Kings County, New York, where her
father worked as a mechanic and her mother was a homemaker. She was raised during
the depression and wanted to study nursing to better her life. However, her mother
was opposed to her leaving home to go to school because in Italian culture at that
time, a girl did not leave the family home until she was married. Ida Jean finally
obtained her permission to leave home and started her nursing education at New York
Medical College's Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital School of Nursing.
Nursing Career and Education
Orlando received her diploma in nursing in 1947 and started to work in obstetrics
at Shore Road Hospital. She did not feel that the patients were receiving good care
there and left to work at another hospital. While there, she studied at St. John's
University, Brooklyn, New York, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in public
health nursing in 1951. She entered public health nursing because she felt that it
would give her more freedom to practice nursing in a way that relied less on protocol
and more on the real needs of the patients. When she found that this was not true, she
entered Teachers College at Columbia University, New York, and earned a Master of Arts
degree in mental health nursing in 1954. She immediately secured a position at Yale
University in the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing (PMH) department as an associate
professor and director and stayed there until 1961.
While at Yale, Orlando was named the principal investigator of a research project
called Integration of Mental Health Concepts in a Basic Nursing Curriculum. It was
from this survey of over 2,000 nurse-patient interactions that Orlando's nursing process
theory was born. She presented this theory in report form until a more complete version
was published in 1961.
On June 30, 1961, she married Robert J. Pelletier. She left Yale University that same
year and in 1962, began working as a clinical nursing consultant at McLean Hospital in
Belmont, Massachusetts. She became the first psychiatric nurse in the United States to
receive a research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The
project was called Two Systems of Nursing in a Psychiatric Hospital. This grant permitted
her to make a comprehensive study of the deliberative nursing process and teach the
instructors, supervisors and nursing staff to use this process to understand the
needs of patients. This was the first time in history that a nursing process was
studied with a scientific approach. In 1972, Orlando published the results of this
study in her book, The Discipline and Teaching of the Nursing Process and conducted
many training programs to explain her theory. From 1972 to 1981, Orlando conducted
more than 60 seminars throughout the United States and Canada to introduce and teach
the nursing process theory. She also was a national and international consultant for
the nursing process and a frequent lecturer.
From McLean Hospital, Orlando went to Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham, Massachusetts.
That hospital had a completely different socioeconomic staff and patient population, and
Orlando wanted to apply her theory to that type of institution. When the hospital closed,
Orlando worked with the nearby Graebler Children's Unit, teaching their staff and
assisting with its closing as well.
After Orlando's retirement, she continued to be a mentor and consultant for former
students and colleagues. She died on November 28, 2007 at the age of 81. Her husband
died in 2012, and a joint memorial service was held for them on September 7, 2012, in
Legacy of Ida Jean Orlando
Orlando's nursing process theory is very easy to understand, easy to use and focuses
on the patient. It is clear enough to be used by the beginning nursing student and
comprehensive enough for more advanced practitioners. It is one of the most effective
theories in nursing and prioritizes the needs of the patient rather than protocol.
Videos and Publications related to Ida Jean Orlando
YouTube has some video clips of Ida Jean Orlando that give an insight into her down-to-earth
personality and dedication to her work. They are well worth watching.