Frontier Nursing University (FNU), located in Versailles, Ky., recently announced its annual award recipients. These awards are presented to FNU alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions to their communities or to the university. Among those honored was Elsie Maier Wilson, CNM, ARNP, BC, MSN, of Newberry, Florida. Wilson was awarded FNU’s Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award. This award honors a graduate who has supported Frontier through volunteer efforts and/or donor support.
“We are very proud that so many of our alumni not only go on to play such important roles in their communities but also value the work that Frontier is doing and choose to give back to the university as instructors and leaders,” said FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FAAN, FACNM. “It is amazing how many deserving individuals are nominated for these annual awards, and we extend our gratitude and congratulations to all of this year’s winners.”
Wilson received her RN from Queens’s Hospital Center in Jamaica, New York in 1956. She worked at the Hyden Hospital in 1962 and then, in 1963, began the nurse-midwifery program at the Frontier Graduate School of Midwifery (now Frontier Nursing University), graduating in July of that same year. She then stayed at Frontier for the next 10 years as a nurse-midwife caring for more than 350 families in the Red Bird District.
She took a leave in 1972 to take a mission trip to Zaire. Wilson earned her master’s degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University before returning to what had become the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing (now Frontier Nursing University). She held the position of Family Nurse Education Coordinator and later became Dean (1977-78). During her time as Dean, she implemented several significant changes, including recruiting Master’s degree faculty. She also helped secure American College of Nurse-Midwives accreditation, federal funding, and contracts with the University of Kentucky and Case Western for students to obtain graduate degrees.
“Listen to the patient, hear her, don’t assume,” Wilson said in advice to students. “Help her buy into her care. Empower her to be in charge of her own health. Help her have hope and faith.”
Wilson left Frontier in 1979 to provide prenatal care through the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. For her work with the Free Clinic, she was awarded the Susan B. Anthony Award from the National Organization of Women in 1981. She went on to become a faculty member at the University of Florida. She received the Florida Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies Special Achievement Award in 1986.