Loretta Ford: Co-Founder of the Nurse Practitioner Movement
2020 has been named the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization. To celebrate, every month we're highlighting a nurse who has helped change the world.
Loretta Ford was working as a public health nurse in Colorado in the early 1960s when she came to a dire realization. Thanks to a shortage of physicians, children and families in rural areas often went without access to the care they needed. Working with her colleague Dr. Henry K. Silver, a pediatrician at the University of Colorado Medical Center, she developed a plan to expand access to medical assistance.
Ford and Silver co-developed a pediatric nurse practitioner model that helped expand the role of the nurse in the community. The program gave nurses advanced clinical training, while also focusing on the unique needs of their patients. The program quickly expanded outside the parameters of pediatrics, and became a national success in 1972.
Ford was recruited to serve as the founding dean of the University of Rochester School of Nursing. There, she continued to advocate for the nurse practitioner model. To date, Ford has authored more than 100 articles on nurse practitioners and advance nursing practice. There are now over 200,000 nurse practitioners practicing in the United States.