The Exchange

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Women in History: Nurse Practitioners of Note

Women in History: Nurse Practitioners of Note

This is the second of two blogs featuring influential female nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs), highlighting influential NPs, as part of Women's History month.

Loretta Ford was the co-founder of the first NP program with Dr Henry Silver at the University of Colorado in 1965. She was also the Founding Dean at the University of Rochester School of Nursing in 1972. Dr Ford, known as the mother of the NP profession, turned 100 years old on December 28, 2020. I had the honor of being present to celebrate this special day: We had a golf cart parade and an outdoor reception at her house. On this day, she received a letter from Governor Ron DeSantis wishing her a happy birthday, and was honored as the recipient of the US Surgeon General's Medallion for actions of exceptional achievement in the cause of public health and medicine—the highest honor the US Surgeon General can bestow. He sent a video since he could not be there in person. She also received the flag that was flown over the capital in Washington, DC on December 28, 2020 and was featured on the Today Show to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Jan Towers helped establish the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP; now known as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners) in 1985 under an apple tree at her home in Pennsylvania. They had 100 members after the first year. She was also the first lobbyist for all NPs and the founding editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. As the Director of Health Policy/Federal Government and Professional Affairs for the AANP, she was active in health policy at the state and national levels to ensure appropriate regulations, utilization, and support of NP practice. In 2014, she received the Loretta C. Ford award. Dr Towers received her MS from the University of North Carolina and her FNP post-master's certification from Pennsylvania State University.

Mary O'Neil Mundinger founded the first Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in the country at Columbia School of Nursing while she was Dean. In 1994, Mundinger published "Advanced Practice Nursing- Good Medicine for Physicians?" in The New England Journal of Medicine. The article advocated for the importance of NPs as cost-effective and quality primary healthcare providers.

Susan Orsega is the first NP Acting Surgeon General, appointed by President Biden on January 27, 2021. Rear Admiral Orsega also serves as the Director of Commissioned Corps Headquarters at the Office of the Surgeon General since March 2019. In addition, she has worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institute of Health, and in 2016 was named Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service. She received her Master's degree of Science from the Uniformed Services University (USU) School of Nursing Nurse Practitioner program and received the Nursing Alumni of the Year award in 2015.


Filed under: NPs & PAs

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