Henry Silver

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Henry K. Silver, MD
Born 1918
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died 1991
Denver, Colorado
Fields Medicine
Alma mater University of California at Berkeley
Known for Russell-Silver syndrome
Physician extender education

Henry K. Silver, MD (1918–1991) was an American pediatrician who influenced the early development of the physician assistant and nurse practitioner roles in the United States. Silver created the nation's first nurse practitioner education program in the 1960s, and he established a pediatric physician assistant program a few years later. In his later career, Silver studied and published on the abuse of medical students by physicians.


Henry Silver was born in Philadelphia in 1918.[1] He attended medical school at the University of California at Berkeley. Silver served on the faculty at the University of California Medical School and Yale University School of Medicine early in his career. In 1957, Silver joined the University of Colorado School of Medicine. From 1978 to his death, Silver served as the medical school's associate dean of admissions.[2]

While at Colorado, he created a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) program in 1964, which represented the first nurse practitioner program in the nation. The PNP program opened the next year. The successful utilization of the program's nurse practitioners led to Silver's interest in creating physician assistant (PA) training programs. A school nurse practitioner was later created at Colorado as well.[1]

Silver founded the pediatric PA program at Colorado in 1969. The initial concept behind the PA program was to train pediatric providers with five years of education after high school rather than the eleven years that it took to become a pediatrician. The program, designed to mitigate a physician shortage, initially awarded bachelor's degrees.[3] The program's first nine graduates, who were all female and who were initially known as child care associates, began to practice in clinics and hospitals in 1972.[4]

Silver coined the term deprivation dwarfism to describe stunted child growth in spite of voracious eating. After a study of several affected children, Silver and a colleague attributed the situation to a lack of parental affection.[5] Another growth disorder, Russell-Silver syndrome, is named in part after him.[6] He was the co-author of a 1990 study which examined mistreatment among 431 medical students. Eighty percent of the students in the study reported incidents of mistreatment during medical school.[7]

Silver died of cancer in January 1991 at University Hospital in Denver.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Silver, Henry K.". Physician Assistant History Society. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Henry K. Silver, 72, Pediatrician, Is Dead". The New York Times. January 16, 1991. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ "New Type of Medical Training". The Norwalk Hour. October 8, 1968. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ "US Physicians Hear About Warnings and Hopes". The Milwaukee Journal. June 23, 1972. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Lack of Parental Love May Stunt Growth". St. Petersburg Times. August 26, 1966. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Silver-Russell Syndrome". Swedish Information Centre for Rare Diseases. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ "The High Cost of Doctoring". The Vindicator. January 26, 1990. Retrieved May 11, 2013.