Nurse practitioner practice issues, nurse practitioner role, nurse practitioner role history, nurse practitioner role pearls of wisdom, scope of practice



  1. Berg, Judith A. PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, FNAP, FAAN, FAANP (Clinical Professor Emerita)


ABSTRACT: Historians tell us there are perils to not knowing history and that studying history allows us to understand our past as well as our present. The how and why of our nurse practitioner (NP) role today lies in our history. The NP role was created in the 1960s by Dr. Loretta Ford and Dr. Henry Silver in Colorado out of need to increase patients' access to pediatric care. Today, Dr. Ford believes NPs providing high-quality primary care can solve what ails the country: access to care. To better understand how the NP role developed, what pushback was met from health care professionals and patients that hindered practice and how this was resolved, how NP practice has changed, and pearls of wisdom for contemporary NPs were questions asked of six pioneer NPs (female, n = 5; male, n = 1). Their collated responses illuminate myriad ways the role was established and how each one overcame restrictions and barriers to practice. These pioneer NP participants highlighted ways NP practice has changed since those early days. They imparted a variety of pearls of wisdom that can guide contemporary NPs to address scope of practice barriers and overcome patient's and other health professionals' objections to NP practice. Loretta Ford cautions us to remember the most important word in NP is "Nurse" and we need to be mindful of our professional roots. Many of these pioneer respondents noted the importance of collective voices when dealing with professional and practice issues; they urge all NPs to join and be active in professional organizations that are invested in promoting and protecting the NP role.