The original idea for the National Academies of Practice surfaced in 1976 when Nicholas A. Cummings, PhD was testifying before the Subcommittee on Health of the US Senate Finance Committee. The issue was Medicare reform and Dr. Cummings was representing the American Psychological Association. During the proceedings, he became disturbed at the complete lack of cooperation among the health care professional societies. During dinner that same evening, Dr. Cummings suggested to his colleagues that what the Congress needed was an interdisciplinary body of health care practitioners that would set aside turf battles and advise Congress as to what was best for the American people.
During the ensuing years, the idea of limiting membership to the most Distinguished Practitioners from each profession surfaced. It was felt that practitioners who had already earned honors, awards and recognition would be more willing to set aside parochial turf interests and address the issue of national health. The National Academies of Practice was incorporated in Washington, DC on January 20, 1981. In 1982, NAP was awarded 501 (c) (3) non-profit status. The first Academy formed was the NAP Psychology Academy.
At a historic gala black tie event held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on August 23, 1982, the first Distinguished Practitioners were inducted into NAP by Founding President Dr. Nicholas Cummings, and Ron Fox, NAP Psychology Chair.
The establishment of more Academies soon followed, and NAP grew to represent 10 interdisciplinary Academies:
- Osteopathic Medicine
- Podiatric Medicine
- Social Work
- Veterinary Medicine
In 2014, NAP added four new Academies:
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech-Language Pathology
NAP includes six categories of members: Distinguished Practitioners, Distinguished Scholars, Distinguished Public Policy Fellows, Professional Members, Associate Members, and Members Emeritis.