President's Message

Celebrating 50 Years of Nurse Practitioners!

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President Mary Chesney, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN

Dear NAPNAP Members,

This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nurse practitioner movement. In 1965, our nation experienced sweeping social and healthcare reforms including the signing of the Voting Rights Act into law, the launch of Medicare and Medicaid, and the first nurse practitioner training program established by pediatrician Henry K. Silver and public health nurse Loretta Ford at the University of Colorado.

Early nurse practitioners were pioneers who overcame many challenges to advance their nursing skills, forge a new path in health care, and bring health care to underserved communities. They also began their careers under physician supervision and without prescriptive authority. Today, there are over 200,000 nurse practitioners, many of whom still fill a healthcare void in rural areas and urban neighborhoods. With the expanded health coverage gained by the Affordable Care Act, the demand for nurse practitioner care is greater than ever. Nurse practitioners continue to work to increase access to care by removing legislative, regulatory and institutional barriers that limit practice and reduce access to care. Twenty-one states, plus the District of Columbia now grant APRNs full practice authority. We are making great progress but significant advocacy work is still needed.

I am very proud of the fact that the first nurse practitioners were PNPs and NAPNAP, founded in 1973, was the first professional association for advanced practice nurses. NAPNAP united early APRNs giving them resources and a collective voice in advocating for children’s health issues on local, state and national levels. It has been an honor for me to serve as NAPNAP’s president. As president, I have had the pleasure of representing our association at numerous meetings, events and conferences. This past week, I joined in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the nurse practitioner movement at AANP’s national conference in New Orleans. Loretta Ford addressed the assembly and inspired us all with her predictions of new models of nurse practitioner-led health care that she envisions in the future. It was exciting to hear from nurse practitioners who are improving management of chronic disease, forging new telehealth practices in rural, underserved areas, or leading new hospitalist programs to improve care coordination and continuity across the care continuum for patients.  

Nurse practitioners have brought wonderful changes and improvements to the healthcare system for more than 50 years. As health care continues to evolve and more nurse practitioners achieve full practice authority, I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years will bring!

Yours in health,



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