Letters From Peplau

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BACKGROUND: Dr. Hildegard Peplau, considered to be our first modern Nurse theorist and the Mother of Psychiatric Nursing, was a prolific writer, engaging in correspondence with colleagues and students who sought her professional and theoretical expertise. Through these letters, she influenced psychiatric nursing while maintaining a broad international network of professional colleagues. OBJECTIVES: An analysis of letters, written between 1990 and 1998, provides insights into Peplau’s last decade of professional life and a model of how to support the next generation of nurse scholars. DESIGN: Using content analysis, 24 letters received between 1990 and 1998 were read, reread, and coded. Recurring themes were identified. RESULTS: Three themes were identified. These include Peplau, the Person: Living a Life of Professional Balance; Lighting a Spark: Investing in the Next Generation; and Work in the Vineyards of Nursing: Maintaining a Life of Scholarship. The letters depict Peplau’s keen intellect, her wide professional network, her leisure time spent with family and friends, and her own work to assure that her theoretical legacy continued. CONCLUSIONS: Peplau’s insights continue to be relevant as psychiatric mental health nursing leaders engage in activities to support the next generation of scholars and leaders.

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