History of SAMRM

Evelyn Tomlin, Helen Erickon, Mary Ann Swain (pictured above L-R), plus twenty-nine other nurses signed the Charter.

The Society for the Advancement of Modeling and Role‑Modeling (SAMRM) was established at the University of Michigan (U-M), Ann Arbor, in April 1986. It is a non-profit organization.

At the Chartering Session, the authors of the first book on Modeling & Role-Modeling Theory (MRM: 1983) signed the Charter along with 29 Chartering Members.

Charter Members were: Dianne Baker, Janet Barnfather, Barbara Behrend, Christine Boodley, Janis Campbell, Cindy Darling-Fisher, Helen Erickson, Margaret Erickson, Denise Davis-Maludy, Debra Finch, Sue Fink, Mary Hunter, Jenny James, Judy Judd, Virginia Keck, Carolyn Kinney, Nancy Kline, Francine Lundy, Theresa MacLean, Susan Miller, Carol Mills, Sandra Moran, Judy Ozbolt, Mary Robinson, Annemarie Schoennemann, Vicki Serino, Karen Stein, Mary Ann Swain, Evelyn Tomlin, Linda Vader, Terry Vandenbosch, Bonnita Williams, and Fay Wright

The First Executive Board, 1986 - 1990:
  • President: Helen Erickson, PhD, RN
  • Vice-President: Mary Ann Swain, PhD
  • Vice-President for Programs: Carolyn Kinney, PhD, RN
  • Corresponding Secretary: Cindy Darling-Fisher, PhD, RN
  • Recording Secretary: Janet Barnfather, PhD, RN
  • Treasurer: Judy Judd, MSN, RN
  • Membership Chair: Christine Boodley, PhD, RN
  • Archivist: Mary Hunter, MS, RN
  • Newsletter Editor: Evelyn Tomlin, MS, RN

SAMRM History & Activities, 1985 - Present

During the fall of 1985, Carolyn Kinney, faculty at U-M, decided that MRM theory was sufficiently important and efforts should be undertaken to ensure its longevity.  She recommended forming a society for the Advancement of Modeling and Role-Modeling. Under Kinney’s guidance, the Society for the Advancement of Modeling & Role-Modeling (SAMRM) was “born”. In spring 1986, the Society was chartered with a membership comprised of the MRM theory authors, graduate nurses and clinicians. Also, after Chartering in 1986, the First National Conference on Modeling and Role-Modeling was sponsored by SAMRM. It was held Thursday, May 8, 1986 at the Campus Inn, Ann Arbor, MI. It was titled The First National Nursing Symposium on Modeling and Role-Modeling: A Theory and Paradigm for Nursing. Jacqueline Clinton, PhD, RN, FAAN was the Featured Speaker.

National Conferences

National Conferences continue to be offered biennially in even-numbered years and provide opportunities to formally present innovations related to MRM theory and to network with others interested in MRM. The list of Conference locations follows:

1986 Ann Arbor, MI
1988 Hilton Head, SC
1990 Austin, TX
1992 Boston, MA
1994 Arcata, CA
1996 Bloomington, MN
1998 Cincinnati, OH
2000 Wilder Forest Marine on St. Croix, MN
2002 Marble Falls, TX
2004 Galveston, TX
2006 Portland, OR
2008 Chicago, IL
2010 San Antonio, TX
2012 Minneapolis, MN
2014 Erlanger, KY
2016 San Antonio, TX
2018 Bemidji, MN


Since 2005, SAMRM has sponsored working Retreats in odd-numbered years. The first retreat was held May 19 – 20, 2005 in Cedar Park, TX. The primary focus of this retreat was to convene potential authors for a new book on MRM Theory which would be edited by Helen Erickson. In fact, that book was published in 2006.

These retreats provide time to focus and collaborate on a specific topic of importance to SAMRM, while reconnecting with other SAMRM members in an informal setting. The list of retreat locations and topics follows:

2007 Villa Maria Retreat & Conference Center, Frontenac, MN: Experienced in-depth discussions on holistic modalities and walked a large labyrinth along the Mississippi River.
2009  Simpsonwood, GA: Informally discussed various topics pertinent to SAMRM and toured local labyrinths.
2011 Albuquerque, NM: Visited Sky City, the oldest, continuous Native American mesa pueblo in the United States.
2013 Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan, WI: Focused on various holistic modalities and initiated strategic planning for SAMRM.
2015 Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan, WI: Held an in-depth discussion on SAMRM’s publishing a journal on MRM theory.
2017 Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan, WI: Developed a Mandala as a non-hierarchical organizational chart for SAMRM.
2019 Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan, WI: Developed a Mandala for MRM theory to be used as a learning tool.


In 2014, an Archive of the Society’s documents was initiated to ensure preservation of SAMRM’s history. Archival materials are housed at the Midwest Nursing History Research Center (MNHRC), College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago; they are in the “Collections” for organizations. The link to items in SAMRM’s collection is here. SAMRM is the only theory-linked nursing organization in that collection. To review items in the collection, contact the MNHRC directly via their website. To contribute items to the collection, please contact the SAMRM Communications Committee Chair at Comm@mrmnursingtheory.org


Newsletters have been an important means for helping SAMRM members to stay connected, engaged, and empowered. Initially, the newsletter was used to ensure MRM theory’s longevity. The newsletter is now viewed as a benefit of membership in SAMRM.

Newsletter content has varied over time, but the President’s Message has served as a consistent source of information about the Society.  Throughout the years, the content has become more diverse and now encompasses reports about current members’ work with MRM theory, book reviews and messages from the theory originator, Dr. Helen Erickson.

Since 2015, newsletters have been distributed electronically to the currently active membership. Newsletters from the past year will be stored on the website soon. Also, the table of contents from all newsletters is stored in SAMRM’s official archive at the University of Illinois Midwest History Center at the College of Nursing, Chicago, IL.

Online Presence

Since 1994, SAMRM has had an Online Presence via a variety of formats. In that year, the MRM-List listserv was started to provide a forum for discussing MRM theory. SAMRM members and any other interested persons could subscribe free of charge. However, similar to many listservs, the participation in this vehicle dwindled with the advent of social media.

In 1995, the website was launched. The URL www.mrmnursingtheory.org was officially registered in 2000.  There have been four webmasters since its inception. During these past 25 years, strategic plans have been made to incorporate technological advances and to capture the attention of those who are interested in holistic, person-centered nursing via application of MRM theory.

SAMRM established its presence in social media in January 2011. A group page for SAMRM was started on Facebook.  The purpose was to provide a social media forum to present information regarding SAMRM and MRM theory to a broad audience.  Each Wednesday, SAMRM member, Ellen Schultz, posts “Wednesday Wisdom” on that forum.

SAMRM’s presence on Instagram was initiated in fall 2019. A LinkedIn account, on behalf of SAMRM, is planned for this year.

Grants & Awards

Grants and Awards were first offered in 2006. A detailed history is forthcoming on the website.