Nurse Practitioner Pioneers—Celebrating 50 Years of Role Development

Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2015;11(6):578-595. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


This article features the reflections of 18 nurse practitioner (NP) pioneers who were intimately involved with developing different facets of the NP role. These individuals were among the most prominent leaders: educators, clinicians, organizational directors or presidents, deans, lobbyists, and national role models who have shaped the role of the NP as it exists today. Many have devoted their professional lives to the NP movement.


Editor's Note

It is with great pleasure on this 50th anniversary of the nurse practitioner (NP) role that we present some reflections from early NPs about the part they played in the development of what we celebrate now as the NP role. While all early NPs were guided by the vision of Dr. Loretta Ford, each individual had to solve many social, professional, educational, and political challenges on their own turf, often serving as the lone voice in their fledgling endeavors to find colleagues and patients with whom to work.

The stories of the leaders presented here are only a small sample of those NPs who have provided tireless leadership over the past 50 years. The names of deserving individuals were suggested by the editorial board members of JNP: The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. In some cases we were unable to locate people, they did not respond to invitations to participate, or they were unable to do so. We hope that this article will stimulate many of you to remember the NP colleagues who inspired and guided you if their names are not listed here. Perhaps you will contact them and thank them directly for their personal assistance to you.

As Susan Wysocki has said, "When you forget your past, you backtrack on the future."

–Marilyn Edmunds, PhD, NP