NEW ORLEANS — A struggle for respect, renumeration, and statutory authority is how Loretta Ford, EdD, RN, PNP, FAAN, FAANPP, who cofounded the nurse practitioner profession along with pediatrician Henry Silver, MD, in 1965, defined the first half century of being an NP at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2015 meeting.

“You make me feel like George Burns. When he was young, sometimes he would get an ovation after a performance. Now at his age, he gets an ovation just for standing up,” the 95-year-old Ford said with characteristic wry wit upon taking the stage at the opening session.

Calling herself the “ghost” of NP professions’ “historical and hysterical past,” and the audience, “the present and future generation for the next century,” she encouraged those in attendance to continue to test the boundaries of what NP education can do.

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During an overview of the NP profession, Ford first harkened back to profession’s roots in the social unrest and historical upheaval of the 1960s to urge NPs to see current challenges in health care as new opportunities to determine what patients need, and how to best meet those needs going forward.

The biggest driving force behind current challenges is a demographic shift of power from healthcare providers back to patients.

A key factor responsible for this shift is “the redirection, philosophically and politically, from a medically oriented healthcare sector to a universal and preventative healthcare system,” Ford said. “Previously, health was not really a system, but a sector held captive by professional know-it-alls. You know who they are.”

As rapidly technology advances, nurse practitioners will be asked to fill many new roles in education, research, legislation, and policy, according to Ford. NPs will serve on corporate boards, as chairmen of university and members of congress, and maybe even President of the United States. 

“I can’t imagine anybody who would want that job, but if you do, go for it,” she quipped.

Increasingly, NPs will have to engage with new partners including bioengineers, computer scientists, ergonomic architects, geneticists, pharmacologists, and many more.

“You will be challenged to innovate, engage, inquire, invest and invent, creatively and expansively, constantly and continuously. Are you ready for this transfer of power, control, and money?” Ford asked the audience. “If not, I will return from the fires of below and haunt you! Godspeed.”


  1. Ford L. Opening Session. Presented at: AANP 2015. June 10-15; New Orleans.