ARNPs United of Washington State

Idaho's first Nurse Practitioner: Lessons for Washington’s underserved communities

Posted about 1 month ago by Nancy Lawton

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Idaho's first Nurse Practitioner:  Lessons for Washington’s underserved communities

When:   October 21,  6:30 p.m.

Where:   Penny Farcy Building, Vashon Island

Who should attend:  (1) health care professionals, especially Nurse Practitioners interested in the origins of their profession, (2) medical historians, and (3) Marie’s former students - now physicians and NPs.

Marie Osborn is Idaho’s first nurse practitioner.  Standing five feet tall in her cowboy boots, Marie field-tested the nurse practitioner idea in her effort to provide emergency and primary care in wild Idaho.  The practical realities of what Marie faced in Idaho’s wild and isolated Sawtooth Mountains and Salmon River country drove the evolution of the nurse practitioner as a health care profession.

Marie, an RN, did not set out to change the world.  In 1971 Marie was a 40-year-old housewife, and mother of five .  During her training at UW / Harborview ER in Seattle, Cook County ER in Chicago, and hospitals and clinics in Idaho and Utah, Marie repeatedly heard this question, “What is a nurse practitioner?”  Forty years later in 2011 - at age 80 - when Marie hung up her white coat and stethoscope for the last time, nurse practitioners were firmly established in health care as a profession.

Marie’s pioneering work as a nurse practitioner in Stanley, Idaho, helped drive state and federal deliberations on the profession, including training, scope of practice, prescriptive authority, and reimbursement for services.  In establishing emergency services, Marie worked with Idaho EMS to train several hundred volunteer EMTs.  Marie also trained medical students (UW), premeds (College of Idaho), and nurse practitioner students (Gonzaga). 

Two of Marie’s five children continue with patient care:  Debbie Wilder RN, an emergency room nurse in Boise, and John Osborn MD who has provided care for Veterans since 1985 and volunteers as co-coordinator of the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

You are invited to enjoy a special evening with a pioneer in health care and advocate for providing primary care and emergency care services in underserved communities.  For more on Marie Osborn and the fund to support rural medical education, click here