In recent days, organizations across the U.S. have been forced to make urgent decisions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. To protect students and faculty, FNU transitioned its most recent Frontier Bound event, a multi-day orientation that normally takes place on campus in Kentucky, into a fully virtual event for incoming students.
Using video webinar technology, Frontier Bound attendees were able to see and talk to one another in real-time, share information and nurture dreams.
FNU associate dean of midwifery Dr. Tonya Nicholson said, “As presenters, we could share our screens in order to have the incoming students ‘see’ and get to know us as faculty, learn how to utilize the technology and connect face-to-face with fellow incoming students.”
Students exiting the Frontier Bound experience left feeling connected to one another and the university, inspired in their career choice and ready to start their FNU journey.
A Culture Of Caring
Everything we do at FNU is built on a foundation that embraces a culture of caring, recognizing that every individual has value and worth. The ripple effect of this culture of caring spreads far beyond FNU community members to the wider healthcare system, with the goal to improve patient outcomes all over the country and the world.
The five elements of FNU’s culture of caring include:
- Professionalism (Excellence, responsibility, transparency, consistency)
- Inclusivity (Equality, awareness, sensitivity, humility)
- Respect (Importance, uniqueness, friendliness, genuine interest)
- Positive Communication (Understanding, thoughtfulness, openness)
- Mutual Support (Helpfulness, awareness, patience, concern, kindness)
Frontier Bound Goes Virtual
To kick off their virtual Frontier Bound experience, students met together for a general welcome and a glimpse into the rich history and heritage of FNU. They saw pictures and heard stories from the early days of Frontier Nursing Service (FNS). Students enjoyed learning about the nurses who served the rural population of eastern Kentucky on horseback and were amazed at the fortitude and ingenuity of the early FNS nurses.
Nurse-midwifery (CNEP), Family nurse practitioner (FNP) and women’s healthcare nurse practitioner (WHCNP) students met together in small groups to review their curricula, learn about their roles, and develop mission statements for their future practices. Groups came up with inspiring mission statements such as these:
We will be a present force that empowers and educates through service. We will educate families to change and enhance their dynamic for generations to come.
Our mission is to provide holistic quality, evidence-based care, while empowering and educating women and their families across the lifespan. We will create a feeling of community and be fully present during moments of joy and grief, while continuing to remember the mission, values, and legacy of the midwives before us.
One of the most valued sessions was with FNU’s Mary Breckinridge Chair, Kitty Ernst, as she shared the history of the distance education program and highlighted the importance of the three Rs: Relationships, Resilience, and Reflection.
Each day of Frontier Bound began with acknowledgments of the stress and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and strategies for coping positively. Faculty actively engaged in supporting and meeting students’ needs by allowing extra time to resolve IT issues and offering frequent Q&A sessions. A sense of community was instilled through team-building activities and students left the experience having made friends for life!
Much like they would have at an on-campus Frontier Bound, students concluded their time with reflection and the ringing of a virtual bell signifying the achievement of the first step in their graduate education journey. The bell-ringing echoes Frontier’s history, recalling FNS nurses who were called to action when the bell outside their nursing center was rung.
Initial anxieties expressed by many students were quelled by the time the virtual Frontier Bound wrapped up, and at the conclusion, students reported that they felt the culture of caring in action.
One student said, “Frontier Bound was terrific! The staff and faculty were so engaged and helpful. I was anxious when I heard we were not coming to campus, but you all did a great job of easing our stress and answering all our questions; thank you.”
Another commented, “The staff was great, and most importantly, they expressed their willingness to support us throughout this program. I can honestly say, after this experience, any doubt I may have had is out the window! I can’t wait to become a fantastic nurse-midwife.”
FNU’s commitment to maintaining a culture of caring despite unexpected challenges was proven in the transition to a fully virtual Frontier Bound, and we can’t wait to continue to support students along every step of their journeys. FNU also plans to hold upcoming orientation sessions virtually through June.