Thelma Ingles

Thelma Ingles
Started "Clinical Nurse Practitioner" Program at Duke

Thelma Ingles (1903-1983) was one of the leading nursing educators of the 20th Century. Her work at Duke University in the 1950’s with Eugene Stead MD, Chairman of the Department of Medicine pioneered the expansion of nursing roles in the clinical care of patients. The master’s clinical nursing specialist program they developed in 1958 under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation (Hanes Project) was a forerunner of modern day CLinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Practitioner programs. It was highly successful in practice but was turned down for accreditation by the National League for Nursing.

Biographical Sketch from The Tar Heel Nurse

Thelma Ingles, associate professor of medical and surgical nursing. Duke University School of Nursing – A new kind of nurse is being born, and we who are older in the profession must nourish her development carefully and thoughtfully … The nurse will be a true colleague of the physician – she will play a much more vital role in the orientation of patients to care, evaluation of nurse must learn to work more harmoniously with the physician; an essential function of the nurse is to promote harmonious cooperation among all members of the medical team … We must also change some of our methods of education. There should be more programs in nursing offered at the master’s level, and programs in nursing should be started at the doctoral level … Many nurses with advanced education too often have ceased to the nurses and have become, rather, psychologists, sociologists, educators … The fundamental objective of advanced education must be to prepare nurses to become expert practionioneers of nursing … I believe too much research is being carried on for the sake of research – it is time we do more research for the sake of the patient … I believe more nurses must learn how to carry on research … We must have the courage to face honestly our weaknesses as well as our strengths, to investigate areas of dissatisfaction as well as satisfaction, to look at ourselves as we are, and to decide what we want to become … And we must examine our many functions carefully and have the courage to relinquish those which might better be carried by other personnel.


  • Pollitt, P.A. & Reesman, K.S. (2011)  Back to the beginning.  Advance for PAs and NPS,11(2).


Publications by Thelma Ingles

  • Ingles, T.M. (2013).  Care from the heart. BTW Publishing, La Mesa, CA.  An autobiography edited by Susan Haradon, PhD, Virginia Ingles Haradon, MSW and Paula Wheeldon.
  • Turk, H. & Ingles, T. (1963). Clinical Nursing: Explorations in Role Innovation. FA Davis: US. 
Compiled by: 
Phoebe Pollitt