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Our first Nurse of the Week in 2021 is a nursing icon. On December 27—the day before her 100th birthday—AAN Living Legend Loretta C. Ford, EdD, RN, PNP, NP-C, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP was awarded the Surgeon General’s Medallion for exceptional achievement in the cause of public health and medicine.

Dr. Ford, who helped to create the first NP program at the University of Colorado in 1965, is regarded as a co-founder of the Nurse Practitioner (NP) profession. As a public health nurse in the 1940s and 1950s, she became concerned about Colorado’s underserved rural communities, and came to believe that with specialized training, nurses could help to fill the gap. Ultimately, Ford and pediatrician Henry Silver joined forces to found the University of Colorado pediatric NP program and the NP profession itself. Ford’s pathblazing role has led to numerous honors. She was the inaugural member of the Fellows of the AANP (FAANP), a special title reserved for providers that have made a lasting impact on the NP profession, and in 2003, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the journal Nurse Practitioner. In 2011, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, which acclaimed her for having “transformed the profession of nursing and made health care more accessible to the general public.”

NP cofounder Loretta Ford received the Surgeon General's Medallion on December 27, 2020.
The Surgeon General’s Medallion

Ford’s latest award, the Surgeon General’s Medallion, is the highest honor granted to a civilian by the Public Health Service and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. AANP President, Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP commented, “Dr. Ford has received this recognition for her vision and commitment to the health of our nation. Thanks to her trailblazing efforts, millions of patients have access to high-quality health care from NPs, the provider of their choice, and the profession has grown to more than 290,000 strong.”

David Hebert, JD, Chief Executive Officer of AANP, added, “As we celebrate Dr. Ford’s 100th birthday, I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to this titan of American health care. From co-creating the NP profession to advocating for patient access to NP care, she has played a profound role in strengthening health care access and choice for America’s patients.”

For more details on Ford’s life and achievements, see this article in Scrubs magazine.

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