Cassie Fishbein leads the program that’s regarded as the birthplace of nurse practitioners. Founded by Loretta “Lee” Ford and Henry Silver in 1965, the University of Colorado’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care program was the first of its kind.
“Loretta Ford was the first pediatric nurse practitioner, so this program is where the role of the nurse practitioner came from. It’s exciting to be part of that legacy. What a phenomenal difference she made in the lives of children.”
– Cassie Fishbein, Specialty Director of CU Nursing’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care Program
While much has changed in healthcare and the nurse practitioner’s role over the years, Fishbein is well aware of the significance of her position at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, where she serves as director of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care (PNP-PC) specialty.
“Loretta Ford was the first pediatric nurse practitioner, so this program is where the role of a nurse practitioner came from,” Fishbein says. “It’s exciting to be part of that legacy. What a phenomenal difference she made in the lives of children.”
About the PNP-PC program
The PNP-PC specialty is designed to prepare graduates to care for children from birth through young adulthood in pediatric primary healthcare. Fishbein says the current PNP-PC program is based on the program that Ford and Silver originated, and it has evolved to include prevention and management of common pediatric acute illnesses and chronic conditions.
The core curriculum of the PNP-PC program provides students with an in-depth understanding of advanced nursing practices and enables them to apply this understanding to a variety of settings, such as private practice, ambulatory and school-based clinics, home, hospital, and subspecialty clinics. Graduates of the four-semester specialty track – a hybrid of online and in-person clinical courses – are eligible to apply for national certification by examination. For students in the master's track who attend full time, the entire program is eight semesters long.
“I think students who would find this appealing are obviously interested in pediatrics and in building long-term relationships with families and children as they grow through childhood,” Fishbein says. “Pediatric nurse practitioners – especially in primary care – see children from birth through the time they go off to college. It’s really rewarding to take care of those children, watch them develop, and watch their families grow.”
Fishbein’s nursing journey
After earning a diploma in nursing from a three-year hospital program in conjunction with the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Tenn., Fishbein worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s pediatric ICU. Later, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Jacksonville University and her Master of Science in Nursing and her doctoral degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
Fishbein says that after she finished her pediatric rotation while completing her initial nurse training she never looked back.
“I like everything about pediatrics. That’s all I ever wanted to do,” she says. “Kids are very resilient, and I enjoy watching them get better after they are sick and watching them develop over the years.”
What she’s doing now
As the specialty director of the PNP-PC program for about a year, Fishbein enjoys her role at CU Nursing. She continues her practice in the Child Health Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
“I really enjoy working with the students,” she says. “It’s exciting to see their development and to realize the positive impact they’re going to have on families and children as they complete the training, graduate and begin practice.”