By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the nurse practitioner (NP) role. Themes of innovation and sustainability emerge as one examines an illustrated timeline of the history of NPs in AJN‘s October issue and reads the accompanying text. (The first section of the timeline is below. Click to enlarge.)
How did this advanced practice nursing role come into being? As the timeline explains, “[d]uring the 1960s, health care was becoming increasingly specialized. Physicians were moving out of general practice and into more complex and lucrative specialties, creating a void in primary care and prevention services, and in care of the chronically ill.”
To fill this void, public health nurse Loretta Ford, working with Dr. Henry Silver at the University of Colorado in 1965, launched the first NP certificate program, a seminal moment in the history of this prevention-driven, primary-care-focused nursing role.
Ford wrote about the compelling need for NPs. Calling health care a capital investment, Ford said:
“We have failed to realize the full potential of professional nurses to improve the quality of life. This group has great unused potential for bringing about health care reforms. Properly prepared and effectively utilized, nurses could advance the nation’s health in preventing illness and helping people maintain their health states, both by educating the population in self-care and by increasing access to, quality of, and equity in health services.”
While the need for the types of care NPs are uniquely prepared to provide was great, the process of standardizing practice and academic requirements has not been an easy one. The timeline outlines some important steps in standardizing academic preparation, as well as the legal and practice barriers that the profession has faced and continues to face. Read the rest of this entry ?