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.
Since earning her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from Frontier Nursing University (FNU) in 2019, Meggan Smith, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, (Class 169) has worked to strengthen family healthcare in rural North Carolina from the ground up. Working at Smoky Mountain Urgent Care and Family Medicine Center in Bryson City, Smith was instrumental in growing a much-needed family practice in the existing urgent care setting.
Smith serves patients in her home community of Graham County, North Carolina, where she recently was awarded a Readers’ Choice award by The Graham Star. A rural mountain area, Graham County has a population of approximately 8,500. For residents of the county, the closest hospital/emergency room is approximately a 35 to 45-minute drive, and only one other office offers primary care.
“This is an underserved area,” Smith said.
Through her role at Smoky Mountain Urgent Care and Family Medicine Center, Smith provides urgent care for acute illness and injury, as well as primary care for members and visitors of the community. Amid COVID-19, Smith had to find new ways to ensure quality care for her patients, including telehealth, extended hours, house calls and curbside services.
“We offered whatever we could to help our patients feel safe and cared for,” Smith said.
Smith also serves as Chairperson for the Graham County Health Advisory Board. She said this role has provided her with deep insights into the medical needs and barriers of her community.
“After my first phone conversation with a staff member at FNU, I knew Frontier was the place for me.”
– Meggan Smith, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, FNU Alumni
Where It Began
As a registered nurse, Smith began observing the need for primary care services in her community and upon serving on the Graham County Board of Health in 2015, she began to understand some of the greatest challenges in regard to regional healthcare, including a large-scale retirement of long-time local providers.
To advance her career in family nursing, Smith began researching universities and came upon FNU.
“After my first phone conversation with a staff member at FNU, I knew Frontier was the place for me,” she said. “I grew up a small town girl here in the mountains of North Carolina and speaking with someone so humble and kind made me feel right at home. At that moment, I knew God had led me straight to FNU’s website after weeks of research.”
Smith took away several important values from her time at FNU. In particular, she said she uses FNU’s Culture of Caring in her daily practice and draws inspiration from FNU founder, Mary Breckinridge, and her unwavering dedication to patients.
“At times during the pandemic when I would be providing curbside urgent care services, I would think of Mary Breckinridge and it would motivate me to keep going,” Smith said.
Outside of her career, Smith enjoys spending time with her husband and six-year-old son. Some of her favorite activities include camping and driving UTVs in the mountains. She is currently helping to develop a new creekside RV park in her hometown for visitors of the Smoky Mountains, which is expected to open next year.
Thank you, Meggan, for your commitment to rural and underserved patients in your community. We are proud to have you as an alumni member and look forward to seeing where your talents and commitment will take you and your community in the future.