Dr. Loretta C. Ford is an internationally recognized leader in nursing and the founder of the nurse practitioner movement, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. She received her diploma in nursing in 1942 from Middlesex General Hospital in New Jersey and started her nursing career as a staff nurse for the Visiting Nurses’ Association. After serving as first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force for three years, Ford earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Colorado School of Nursing. In 1961, she earned her doctorate of education from the University of Colorado School of Education.

Ford, along with pediatrician Henry K. Silver, was offered a grant from the University of Colorado in 1965 to create a demonstration project to expand the role of nurses in healthcare. After publishing their findings, they created a curriculum to educate nurse practitioners. The program gained national success, and Ford became the founding dean of the University of Rochester School of Nursing in 1972. 

She wrote more than 100 publications, earned six honorary doctorates, and received numerous awards, including the Gustav Lienhard Medal from the Institute of Medicine, the Living Legend Award from the American Academy of Nursing, and the American College of Nurse Practitioner’s Crystal Trailblazer Award.

Today, Ford continues to lecture on the nurse practitioner movement.