Madeleine Leininger


Madeleine Leininger was a nursing professor and theorist renowned worldwide for being the developer of a theory of nursing called transcultural nursing. Her initial publication of this theory was in 1961. Leininger was born on the 13th of July 1925 and died on the 10th of August 2012. She studied nursing at the school of nursing run by St Anthony where she obtained a diploma in nursing. She also obtained degrees in nursing from Creighton University as well as Benedictine College. She obtained a Master of Science degree in nursing from the Catholic University of America and earned a doctorate degree in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Washington in 1966. She held positions as faculty member of several universities. She was the recipient of several honorary doctorate degrees during her lifetime and was recognized as a living legend by the American Academy of Nursing in 1998. In the same year, she was also conferred with the title of Distinguished Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing of Australia.

A Synopsis of Madeleine Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing Theory

Before delving into the technical details of Dr Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing theory, it would be helpful to take a brief overview of the events that helped inspire her to develop the concepts that she eventually concretized into this theory. Firstly, early in her nursing career, series of appreciative comments by her patients for her care made her to realize the importance and indeed the centrality of caring in the nursing profession. Again she observed the behavior of children that were under nursing care and realized that there were recurring similarities of behaviour of children from similar cultural backgrounds.

A closer scrutiny of this phenomenon made her to conclude that these behaviors indeed sprang from a cultural basis. These realizations were the initial steps towards developing the concept of nursing called transcultural nursing. All of these happened in the 1950s. Basically, the practice of transcultural nursing involves a totality approach to nursing care based on a communicative and co-operative effort between a nurse and her patient that is designed according to the cultural norms and values of the patient. Some of the things that make up transcultural nursing are personality and individuality considerations, language and communication, physical traits, gender, age, sexuality as well as lifestyle. Occupational and socio-economic factors are also taken into consideration. In other words, transcultural nursing involves a tailor made and holistic approach to nursing care.

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