Personal History And Career : Dorothea Orem

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Personal History and Career Dorothea Orem is known as one of the foremost nursing theorists. She is credited with the development of a nursing grand theory, the self-care deficit nursing theory (SCDNT). The beginning of her career can be traced back to Washington, D.C. in the mid 1930’s. Though she was a Baltimore, Maryland native, Orem pursued her nursing education at Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., graduating with baccalaureate and Master’s degrees in 1939 and 1945 respectively. Following her education, Orem held many job positions across multiple nursing disciplines, including working as a private nurse, nurse educator, administrator, director, and private contractor (McEwen & Wills, 2011). In 1947, shortly after graduating with her Master’s in nursing, Dorothea Orem accepted a position with the Indiana State Board of Health, where she first thought of her theory of nursing. She left that position to work at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), the predecessor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 1957-1959. While at HEW, she took on the role of curriculum consultant and was tasked with the improvement of nurse training through curriculum development (Johnson & Webber, 2010). It was Orem’s role in this project that provided the impetus for her nursing theories as she began to explore the connections between nursing, education, and self-care. Taylor (2011) notes that Orem’s first published article,
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