Nurse Practitioner History
The Nurse Practitioner role evolved in response to a nationwide shortage of healthcare services in the mid-1960’s. The first Nurse Practitioner program was developed as a Master’s degree curriculum, based on the nursing model, at the University of Colorado’s School of Nursing. This pioneer program was co-founded jointly by Loretta Ford, RN, a nursing faculty member and Henry Silver, MD, a pediatrician. The first program specialty was in pediatrics. Other healthcare specialties were added shortly after as programs developed across the country to provide primary healthcare services to large, underserved populations.
In 1971, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare issued recommendations that supported these nurses' roles as PCPs. Federal monies were then allocated to increase Nurse Practitioner programs nationally. By the mid-1970’s, there existed more than 500 certificate programs that prepared nurses to provide primary care. During the late 1970’s and 1980’s, programs shifted from certificate to Masters degree preparation as certifying bodies required a Masters Degrees. In 2000, Nurse Practitioners were legally able to practice in every state. Currently, there is another shift that will require Nurse Practitioners to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice. All Nurse Practitioner who will be graduating after 2015 will be required to obtain a Doctor in Nursing Practice as Masters degree programs are being phased out.
Currently, there are more than 3000 nurse practitioners in Arizona.
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