History of NPs

Clinicians who blend clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, Nurse Practitioners (NPs) provide a comprehensive perspective to health care. NPs practice in many different medical settings, with 89% of NPs prepared in primary care.

NPs constitute a vital component of the primary care workforce, ensuring high-quality and patient-centered health care is available to a broad range of consumers. In fact, NPs make up the most rapidly growing component of the primary care workforce and they are poised to take on an even more prominent role for meeting healthcare needs in the future. 

So let’s take a look back at just how far the profession has come since its inception in 1965.



The first NP program was founded by Loretta Ford, EdD, PNP, FAAN, and Henry Silver, MD, at the University of Colorado, as a response to the shortage of primary care providers arising from the expansion of coverage by Medicare and Medicaid to include low-income women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.


The American Nurses Association (ANA) helped legitimize the role of NPs by establishing the Council of Primary Care Nurse Practitioners, which created an early description of an NP’s duties. To further standardize the duties of NPs, the ANA began offering NP certification exams in 1977.


There are approximately 15,000 NPs in the U.S. 


The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners was established, gaining 100 members in its first year.


The federal government has spent $100 million on NP education.


NP leaders worked with Congress to pass the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1989, which created limited reimbursement for NPs.


AANP forms the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program.

1995 – 1999

The number of NPs increased from 40,000 to more than 60,000, and the number of NP education programs continued to outnumber all other nursing specialties. 


National Nurse Practitioner Week, held annually in November, is recognized in a proclamation by U.S. Congress.


AANP celebrates its 25th anniversary and participates at a meeting with White House Office of Health Reform to review the primary care perspective on preventive care, access, coordinated primary care, quality of care, payment and the need to recognize all primary care providers as solutions to the healthcare crisis.


There are more than 270,000 NPs in the U.S.


Currently, NPs have full scope of practice in 21 states and the District of Columbia, and the profession is anticipated to continue its growth, with 244,000 NPs expected to be practicing by 2025.


The voice of more than 10,000 APRNs throughout Ohio, OAAPN counts Nurse Practitioners, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Certified Nurse Midwives among our members.