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Dr. Loretta Ford

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) is indebted to the great nurses who built and pioneered the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) role around the world, including Loretta C. Ford, EdD, RN, PNP, NP-C, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP.

Dr. Ford is an internationally renowned nursing leader who has transformed the nursing profession and made health care more accessible for all. After developing the first nurse practitioner (NP) program in the U.S. alongside Dr. Henry Silver, MD, in 1965, she has remained both an inspiration and an innovative force within the nursing community. Dr. Ford’s courage to effect change, determination to improve the quality and delivery of patient care, perseverance in the face of opposition and dedication to the NP role continues to guide NPs nationwide.

About Dr. Loretta Ford

For more than half a century, Dr. Ford has been an active champion for the NP community in areas of practice, education and research. At the University of Colorado in 1965, Dr. Ford collaborated with Dr. Silver to start the nation’s first NP program. This pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) program expanded the role of public health nurses to focus on illness prevention and health promotion, combining clinical care and research to teach nurses to factor in the social, psychological, environmental and economic conditions of patients when developing care plans. She became the founding dean of the University of Rochester School of Nursing in 1972 and continued to positively influence graduate-level nursing education through the development of the unification model of nursing — combining practice, education and research.

Dr. Ford is an inaugural member of the Fellows of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP), the author of more than 100 publications and has served as a consultant and lecturer to multiple organizations and universities. She holds several honorary doctorate degrees and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Living Legend Award from the American Academy of Nursing and the Gustav O. Lienhard Award from the National Academy of Medicine. She has also been inducted into both the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.

Dr. Ford continues to inspire and influence the advancement of the NP role, and her work has forever changed the landscape of health care. As a testament to her success, the number of graduate-trained NPs in the U.S. has now grown to more than 385,000, and the APRN role is recognized in 70 countries. On behalf of the NP community, AANP is honored to wish Dr. Ford a very happy 103rd birthday.

  • Learn more about Dr. Ford.
    • 1920: Born Dec. 28 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
    • 1936: Began her nursing career at Middlesex General Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
    • 1941: Earned her nursing diploma and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving three years during World War II.
    • 1949: Attended the University of Colorado (CU) on the GI Bill and earned a Bachelor of Science degree.
    • 1951: Earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree from CU.
    • 1961: Earned a Doctor of Education from CU and joined the CU faculty.
    • 1965: Created, with Dr. Henry Silver, the nation's first NP program at CU.
    • 1972: Named the first dean of the newly independent University of Rochester School of Nursing, where she would develop the unification model of nursing — linking clinical practice, education and research.
    • 2011: Named a “Living Legend” by the American Academy of Nursing and inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
    • 2020: Honored by USA Today as one of its “Women of the Century” in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage, and awarded the Surgeon General’s Medallion hours before her 100th birthday.
    • 2023: Honored on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery.