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MRM Theory History

Today, MRM serves as one of the extant theories for holistic nursing, recognized by ANA as a specialty in nursing.
It has provided the framework for numerous dissertation, several research studies, and clinical practice.

The Modeling and Role-Modeling paradigm, originally derived by Helen Erickson from a practice model (later labeled the APAM model), was developed over several years of clinical practice. Related concepts and their relations were further elaborated, labeled and articulated during the early 1970's when Erickson began a prolonged collaboration with Mary Ann Swain. During this period of time, the APAM model was tested, needs and developmental taxonomies elaborated, and linkages hypothesized.

In the mid 1970's, while enrolled in graduate school at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (UM), Erickson and Tomlin discovered one another. Interested in the promotion of person centered care, they spent many hours discussing the essence of nursing, the importance of patient-centered care, and other philosophical assumptions that provide the bases of MRM. Swain, Principal Investigator of a NIH funded research project, invited Erickson to test the efficacy of MRM interventions with people who had hypertension. Swain followed her project with one focused on persons with diabetes; Erickson requested that Tomlin join the research team. By the early 1980's the original practice model derived from practice, expanded and tested through research, took on a distinctive life of its own.

Erickson accepted invitations to present the model both instate and out, Tomlin wrote about it, calling it Erickson's self-care model, and Swain continued to support and encourage further elaboration and testing. Klienbeck (1977) replicated Erickson's work on the APAM for her master's thesis and other graduate students used the framework as the bases of their graduate work. Finally, by the early 1980's it became apparent that sufficient interest existed to take the work to the next level. The first book, Modeling and Role-Modeling: A Theory and Paradigm for Nursing., was written.

The Fundamentals Department faculty in the School of Nursing used it as the bases for clinical practice. Jenny James, Clinical Director of the Medical-Surgical units in the University of Michigan, Medical Center, observing significant changes in student's attitudes and nursing actions, contacted Erickson for consultation. Soon after, MRM was adopted as a framework for the Medical-Surgical units under the direction of James. Debra Finch, then head nurse on one of the units, adopted the entire model and initiated implementation. Finch concurrently enrolled in graduate school, developed a clinical tool designed to assess developmental residual and tested it for her master's thesis.

Simultaneously, courses in MRM offered to graduate students served as a stimulus for expansion and testing of various concepts; several graduate students adopted the model as the bases for their theses and dissertations. A cohort of faculty, students, and clinical personnel met weekly to discuss clinical, research, and educational issues as they related to MRM.

During the fall of 1985, two things occurred that influenced the future of MRM. First, the "MRM Cohort" decided to offer a conference on the theory and paradigm; and second, Carolyn Kinney (one of the U of M faculty) decided that the "MRM Cohort" should organize a Society for the Advancement of MRM. The outcome of these decisions were the establishment of The Society for the Advancement of Modeling and Role-Modeling (SAMRM) and the First National Conference on Modeling and Role-Modeling - sponsored by the SAMRM.

In the fall of 1986, Erickson moved to the University of South Carolina as Associate Dean, Academic Affairs. Kinney moved to The University of Texas, Austin, as faculty. Tomlin continued to teach Fundamentals at the U of M for a few years and then retired, moving to Illinois. By the late 1980's, Swain had moved into Administration at the U of M, and soon after moved on to New York to assume the position of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for the New York State University System. In 1986, Erickson moved to Austin, TX, as Professor of Nursing and Chair of Adult Health.

During the late 1980's MRM continued to grow and spread as Erickson and Kinney worked together to advance the work of SAMRM; Jenny James implemented the model in various health care agencies, and other Charter members including Janet Barnfather, Nancy Kline-Leidy, and Margaret Erickson, continued to test hypotheses and publish findings. Doctoral students at The University of Texas also adopted MRM. Susan Bowman and colleagues adopted the model as the bases for their curriculum at Humboldt State University. Their school became the first School of Nursing to fully implement the model and become nationally accredited with a MRM based nursing curriculum. Other schools and health care agencies followed.