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Nursing Theorist Linda Richards

Nursing Theorist Linda Richards

Nursing theorists add an increased level of dimension to the nursing practice. They provide an overarching view of what the goal of nursing should be and how it can improve patient outcomes. Other theorists, such as middle-range theorists, bridge the gap between the grand theories of nursing and actual nursing practice. It is important to recognize the value that these nursing theorists add to the field and study their contributions. One such nursing theorist is Linda Richards, who is considered the first nurse in the United States who received a professional training. She also identified several methods to improve patient care. Nursing Theorist Linda Richards

Linda Richards was born in 1841 and died in 1930. Her full name was Malinda Richards, but she was known by the nickname “Linda.” Richards suffered several tragic losses of family members and other loved ones over the course of her young life. Her father and her mother died of tuberculosis, a common disease during the 19th Century. Richards cared for them until their death. Her fiancée was severely injured during the Civil War. Richards also cared for him until he died in 1869. After these experiences, Richards decided to work as a nurse. She had originally trained as a teacher at the age of fifteen and spent several years teaching. However, Richards did not belief this was her true calling in the world. She realized she wanted to be a nurse. She took a position at a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She received little on-the-job training at the position. Furthermore, nurses were not treated with any professional respect (Vermont History Women’s Project, 2010).

She was the first student to enroll in the first nursing program in the United States. The school was a grueling program with little time to sleep and little time off for personal enjoyment. The nursing students were on the ward from five-thirty in the morning until nine o’clock at night. Furthermore, the nurses slept on the ward to provide for the needs of the patients during the night. Often, the calls of the patients lasted throughout the entire night shift. While this is obviously not a safe way to train anyone in any profession, this was often a fact of life in the 19th Century. It would obviously not be allowed today; however, at the time, it was acceptable. The first program lasted approximately three months. No salary or living stipend was given to the student nurses for the period of the three months (American Association for the History of Nursing, n.d.). Nursing Theorist Linda Richards


After her graduation, Richards moved to New York City where she obtained employment as a night supervisor at Bellevue Hospital. Bellevue Hospital has a well-known reputation for psychiatric care. While at this facility, Richards began to change the way hospitals charted about patients. Richards developed a charting method that gave each patient his or her own medical chart. Previously, this was unheard of in the medical world. Furthermore, this was the first method that taught nurses how to document. It was so efficient and practical for nursing that Florence Nightingale and her disciples adopted the system for use (American Association of University Women, n.d.).

Richards also recognized that the United States needed nurses who were trained professionally, as she was. She dedicated herself and her life to creating nursing schools where young women could obtain a professional level of training. She also focused on developing institutions dedicated to improving the level of psychiatric care in the United States. This resulted from her experiences at Bellevue Hospital (National Women’s Hall of Fame, 2012).

In 1874, Richards returned to the Boston area. She took a position as the nursing superintendent at the Boston Training School for Nurses. The program was struggling at the time of her appointment. However, she restructured the program and improved it significantly. However, she did not limit her work to the United States. She spent seven months in England, learning at a nursing training program. Upon her return to the Boston area once more, she developed a training school for nurses at Boston College Hospital (Brieske, 2011).

She then moved to Japan. In Japan, she also established professional schools for the training of nurses. This was 1886 and training schools for nurses in Japan were also unheard of at the time. She returned soon to the United States. Upon her return, she ventured out from the Boston area. She established programs in Philadelphia, Michigan and throughout Massachusetts. The American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools appointed her as their first president (Brieske, 2011). Nursing Theorist Linda Richards

Richards retire from nursing at the age of seventy. This was after a long and fruitful career, during which she changed the face of nursing education. She also made a significant improvement in the method of charting. In 1923, she suffered a stroke. After her stroke, she was cared for at the Boston Home for Women and Children. She remained there until her death in 1930. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. This confirmed the amazing progress she made for professional women (Brieske, 2011).

Richards is known for the improvement of education for nurses in the United States. She established nursing schools and training programs to ensure that nurses were qualified for their job duties. This reflects her status as the first professionally trained nurse in the United States. She is also known for developing a method of charting that recognized the individual importance of each patient. Patient charts were no longer a conglomeration of all the patients who were in the facility or on the nurses’ ward at the same time. Obviously, this method of charting is still used today. It would be unthinkable for a patient’s chart to be contaminated with the medical history and assessment of another patient. For all of these reasons, Linda Richards will be remembered as one of the most important nurses in the history of American nursing.Nursing Theorist Linda Richards



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