Happy Nurse Practitioner Week and happy anniversary NPs! Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the nurse practitioner movement makes this year’s NP Week (Nov. 8 – 14, 2015) even more special. In 1965, Loretta Ford partnered with Dr. Henry Silver at the University of Colorado to create an educational opportunity for registered nurses to expand their training in pediatric primary care and fill critical gaps in rural areas desperate for providers. Their pioneering leadership launched the nurse practitioner movement, which continues to grow and thrive. The number of nurse practitioners licensed in the United States has almost doubled in the past 10 years, documenting a stable profession with a history of providing high quality, accessible health care.
Just as the first nurse practitioners were PNPs, NAPNAP, with 400 members, became the first official nurse practitioner association in 1973. Today, we have more than 8,000 members who work in many different healthcare settings including primary care, acute care hospitals and school sites. Pediatric nurse practitioners are part of a much larger group of more than 200,000 licensed NPs who care for every age group population, and provide different specialty services and critical care. Because of our focus on health promotion and education, disease prevention and the well-being of the whole person, nurse practitioners are integral and highly respected members of the healthcare team.
Today, we are again experiencing a huge demand for primary care services. The Affordable Care Act has provided millions of Americans with access to health care, and the U.S. needs more providers to care for newly insured patients. More than ever, nurse practitioners can fill critical gaps. Increased practice complexity has driven more NPs to achieve doctoral degrees, and standardized education, certification and licensure are expected to meet patient needs. Nurse practitioners are recognized for their contributions in health care. Today, twenty-one states and the District of Columbia now have full practice authority. This is an exciting time to be a nurse practitioner as, once again, history is being made!
You can commemorate this extraordinary occasion by sharing the wonderful contributions made by nurse practitioners through your social media account(s) and explaining the critical role we play in health care to people who may not understand. I am incredibly proud to call myself a nurse practitioner and give kudos for the many tremendous accomplishments of my fellow NPs during the past 50 years. This truly is a cause for celebration, and I am honored to be leading NAPNAP during this exciting time. Congratulations to us all! Here’s to the next 50 years!
p.s. Read more about NAPNAP and the 50th anniversary of the NP movement.