Life-Work Balance: A Roper-Logan-Tierney Model of Nursing Perspective

The scarcity of the nursologist workforce, coupled with the huge challenges of the current pandemic have underscored the need for care of ourselves as we live in a time of personal, professional, and political uncertainty about what will happen to each of us and our significant others and when whatever will happen will occur.

We could turn to Mishel’s (1990) theory of uncertainty in illness as a guide to understanding and managing our feelings of unease and distress that emanate from uncertainty.

Alternatively, we could turn to Orem’s (2001) self-care framework as a basis for caring for ourselves by seeking support from significant others and other nursologists.

Perhaps most of all, however, we can turn to the Roper-Logan-Tierney (RLT; 2000) model of nursing based on activities of living to guide us to what really is needed, that is, a balance between the personal and professional components of our life.

The RLT model of nursing includes 12 activities of living (see diagram). Working and playing is most relevant activity for this blog. Roper et al. (2000) described working as behaviors associated with working for or not for money; work not done for money may be by children, students, homemakers, volunteers, and retirees. They pointed out that work is “an important part of a person’s identity; it provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment; a structure to each day and year; a source of company [albeit company may be more remote than in person for some nursologists, especially during the current pandemic]” (Roper et al., 2000, p. 41).

Roper et al. (2000) described playing as behaviors associated with non-work time, including leisure, relaxation, exercise, sports, recreation, and holidays. They recognized that the objectives of playing are “enjoyment and occupation of time . . . in all forms of playing, and for children it is a means of learning and developing” (Roper et al., 2000, p 42).

Most important is that “Work and play are complementary, and BOTH are fundamental aspects of living” (uppercase emphasis added) (Roper et al. 2000, p. 41).

How, you may ask, can any of us find time during any day or week or month or even year for playing when continuing to work is so important and necessary for us as we care for others, educate learners, and administer complex healthcare and educational institutions?

My personal journey of progress toward a working-playing balance has been slow and not always in the direction of a satisfying balance. For many years, I told myself and others that there are seven days in a week and, therefore, working can (and should) include all seven days. More recently, however, I have realized that some time “off” from work each day and not working all seven days each week in favor of playing (exercise and reading fiction are my year round play activities, adding being a passenger for windjammer sailing off the coast of Maine for a few hours weekly in summer) has resulted in more productive working times.

I invite readers of this blog to add comments about their journeys toward a balance of working and playing.


Mishel, M. H. (1990). Reconceptualization of the uncertainty in illness theory. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 22(4), 256-262. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.1990.tb00225.x

Orem, D. E. (2001). Nursing: Concepts of practice (6th ed.). Mosby.

Roper, N., Logan, W., & Tierney, A. J. (2000). The Roper-Logan-Tierney model of nursing: Based on activities of living. Churchill Livingstone

3 thoughts on “Life-Work Balance: A Roper-Logan-Tierney Model of Nursing Perspective

  1. I have had a daily self-care practice since 1989. I find if I don’t do it first thing every morning, it doesn’t get done. Prior to retirement, there were times I had to get up at 4 am to work it in, going to bed at 9 pm to get adequate sleep. My self-care practice includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components. The importance was reinforced by a client who, age 72, in a wheelchair, said to me that if he had known he would end up like this, he would have taken better care of himself.

  2. I have been a nurse in clinical practice for 25 years. I am also nursing faculty. Today a guest speaker, from my clinical practice area, was presenting to my pre-licensure students about ANCC Magnet and Nursing Empowerment. She praised me by name, telling the students that I was a great example of what it looked like to be an engaged nurse —-she listed many committees, taskforces, and roles I have played. However, sitting there, knowing what I did about the cost I am paying for over-functioning, lack of work-life balance and the neglect of self-care made me feel like an imposter. I was gracious, but I have also told my students I am as much of a cautionary tale and a role model.

  3. Dr. Fawcett’s blog hits on such an important issue of self-care and the balance of work and life. As nurses and faculty there will always be more to give, do and finish. It seems never ending at times BUT the need to take the time for us is so vital in preventing burn-out, stress, psychological distress and emotional exhaustion (Sirgy & Lee 2018). I have always advocated to my students and to faculty the need for this balance. I have learned that to be more productive and feel “balanced” is when I step away from the demands of work and spend some precious time doing what I enjoy the most. I ask you… when did you last take time for you? For me, it was last Sunday night watching the Superbowl with my family and a few friends with a fire going (always so comforting on a snowy New England night).


    Sirgy, M. J., & Lee, D. J. (2018). Work-Life balance: an integrative review. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 13(1), 229-254.

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