At the heart of Frontier Nursing University is a talented and diverse community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, Couriers and preceptors. Spotlight blogs feature members of our FNU community that are focused on the mission of educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to deliver quality health care to underserved and rural populations.
In 1989, Kitty Ernst led Frontier Nursing University (FNU)’s first distance learning nurse-midwifery program in Perkiomenville, PA. One member of this pioneer distance learning class was Jane Arnold, MSN, Class 1. Jane adopted the pioneer mindset during her FNU education and continued this into her esteemed and groundbreaking career.
After graduating in 1993, Jane was brought on to establish the first hospital-based nurse-midwifery practice on Long Island, Stoney Brook Medical Center. Her biggest challenge from the beginning was educating the population, as there was no prior knowledge of nurse-midwifery. She went about this task “quietly and simply” by stating, “midwives are not an alternative to physician practices but a choice.”
Every high-risk patient seen at Stoney Brook was sent to a physician and once cleared, returned to the nurse-midwifery practice to finish their care. As the popularity of the nurse-midwifery practice grew, many women wanted to keep their nurse-midwives even if they needed physician care, so Jane and her team managed these families in tandem with the physicians.
“This education of the population didn’t happen overnight,” said Jane, “but when women realized the tender loving care we offered and that we were knowledgeable in birth and postpartum care, the floodgates opened.”
By 2006, Stoney Brook nurse-midwives had attended 20,000 births and had grown to a team of 15.
In 2009, Jane served as the Midwifery Director at a newly built hospital in Gaborone, Botswana. She and her team recruited and educated nurse-midwives for clinics and labor and delivery. Then, in 2012, Jane spent two years in Rwanda developing a BSN program for nurse-midwives. She united American and local Rwandan nurse-midwives to develop curriculum and to build the first BSN program to exist in the African country. Her team taught classes and assisted students with delivery at community health centers.
“This program was by far the most meaningful work to make a difference for women that I have ever done. It was the epiphany of my career as a nurse-midwife,” said Jane.
“Frontier keeps alive the flame that Mary Breckinridge lit. She was a visionary in the care of women and what nurse-midwifery could be.”
Jane took part in the establishment of our distance learning program and holds a special place in our hearts at FNU. She has also provided care to thousands of women by introducing nurse-midwifery in places where it had never been before. Thank you, Jane!