Margaret A. Newman is a nursing theorist who has changed the way that nurses look at
health, illness and human consciousness. Her theory, Health as Expanding Consciousness,
was introduced in 1978 and is a valuable addition to the nursing practice and the
scientific base of the profession.
Education and Career
Margaret A. Newman was born on October 10, 1933 in Memphis, Tennessee. She received
her first baccalaureate degree in home economics and English in 1954 from Baylor
University in Waco, Texas. Shortly after that, she interrupted her education and
career to become the primary caregiver for her mother who had amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis. After her mother's death, she felt drawn to nursing and earned her Bachelor
of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of Tennessee in 1962. A year later,
she entered the University of California, San Francisco, to study medical-surgical
nursing and earned her master's degree (MSN) in 1964. In the three years before returning
to graduate school, she was the joint director of a clinical research center and also
an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.
Dr. Newman received her Ph.D. in 1971 from New York University and taught there from
1971 until 1977. It was there that she met Martha Rogers, the nursing theorist who
developed the Theory of Unitary Human Beings. Rogers, her teacher, colleague and
mentor, was the primary influence behind the development of her theory of expanding
In 1977, Newman left New York University to accept the position as professor of graduate
study at Penn State University. In 1984, she became the nurse theorist at the University
of Minnesota and stayed there until she retired from teaching in 1996. While there, she
continued developing her theory and conducted research projects with the help of
graduate students. She is now Professor Emeritus at the university and continues
to write and add to the body of nursing knowledge.
Honors and Awards
Dr. Newman has received many awards and honors throughout her career. She is a Fellow
in the American Academy of Nursing and also has won their Living Legend Award. Both
the University of Tennessee and New York University have honored her as an outstanding
alumnus and the New York University presented her with the Distinguished Scholar in
Nursing Award. The University of Minnesota honored her with the E. Louise Grant Award
for Nursing Excellence. In 1983, she received the Founders Award for Nursing Excellence
in Nursing Research from Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Zeta Chapter of the
same organization created a Margaret Newman Scholar Award to fund doctoral students who
research Newman's theory. Since 1983, she has been named in the Who's Who in American
Women and was included in the Who's Who in America in 1996.
Dr. Newman's theory development was inspired by Martha Roger's groundbreaking theory
but also was influenced by Itzhak Bentov's Concept of Evolution of Consciousness,
Arthur Young's Theory of Process and David Bohm's Theory of Implicate. She presented
it for the first time in 1978 as a speaker at a New York conference on nursing theory.
In 1979, she expanded the framework and concepts in her book, Theory Development in
Nursing and in 1986, she presented the completed theory in Health as Expanding Consciousness.
Health as Expanding Consciousness is considered to be a grand nursing theory that
can be applied to all areas of nursing practice. It stemmed from Newman's concern
for people who cannot overcome disease or disability. She believes that people in
any situation can expand their consciousness, take part in the universal process of
finding greater meaning in life and interconnect with other people and the world.
She defines health as the growth of consciousness and the nurse's role as one of
focusing on the wholeness of people. Disease is considered not as an independent
entity but a part of the pattern of the interaction between people and their environments.
Dr. Newman's theory builds on Martha Roger's work and brings new hope to those who
have permanent life-altering diseases and disabilities. It places nurses in a position
of helping patients understand and use their own power to develop a higher level of
consciousness. Nurses can use this interaction to help both patients and themselves
develop greater consciousness.
Publications related to Margaret Newman
There are short videos on YouTube of Margaret Newman that give an insight into her
thoughts on consciousness. The website at
has valuable information concerning the theory, news and publications.