Loretta C. Ford Turns 99

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On December 28, 2019, Dr Loretta C. Ford, co-founder of the first nurse practitioner program, turned 99. Loretta is known to her friends as "Lee," and the initial "C" stands for Cecilia. She was born in New York City in 1920.

Dr Ford believed public health nurses with specialized training could provide much needed healthcare. In 1965, she co-founded the first nurse practitioner program with pediatrician Henry Silver at the University of Colorado. It was called the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program, though Dr Ford wanted to call it the Public Health Nurse Practitioner Program. Thanks to Dr Ford's efforts, this year we can celebrate 55 years as nurse practitioners.

Dr Ford started her nursing career at Middlesex General Hospital in New Jersey and received her diploma in nursing in 1942. In 1943, she was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army Air Forces. After the war, she went to the University of Colorado, where she received her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing, a public health nurse certificate, and a doctorate in education. She became a professor at the University of Colorado School of Nursing in 1965, and in 1972, Dr Ford became the founding dean at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. After a long and successful career, she retired in 1985. Currently, she has 10 honorary doctoral degrees from prestigious universities, the most recent being from the University of South Florida in 2016.

Over the course of her career, Dr Ford has received many awards including the Gustav O. Lienhard Award from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Living Legend Award from the American Academy of Nurses, the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Nurse Practitioner, and the Elizabeth Blackwell Award. Dr Ford has also been inducted into both the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Finally, in 2006 the University of Rochester named an addition to the school the "Loretta C. Ford Educational Wing."

On January 4, 2020, nurse practitioners from across the US celebrated her birthday in Florida with a golf tournament. Dr Ford can't wait till next year's 100th birthday party. Hope to see you all there!

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