Celeste Halcomb, PA first found out about the Courier Program at Frontier Nursing University (FNU) through her health professions advisor while attending Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. She had an interest in rural medicine and working in an underserved area, ideas consistent with the values and opportunities that the Courier Program offered. With a desire to form partnerships between medical providers and the community, Celeste started the program in the summer of 2004.
During her time in Southeastern Kentucky, Celeste shadowed numerous health care practitioners throughout Leslie and Clay Counties. She also accompanied nurses on their home health rounds, coached softball, and helped to create activities for kids that focused on health and safety through a program called, “Campaign for Safe Kids”.
Celeste particularly liked going on home health rounds.
“In a clinic atmosphere you can’t truly tell how people are living, and getting out into the community through home health rounds really helped give me a wider perspective of people’s lives,” Celeste said.
She found through these visits and her other experiences that the people in Leslie County were some of the most genuine she had ever met. It was clear that many of them didn’t have much, but they always offered what they had, most often in the form of a delicious hot meal.
Celeste developed such strong relationships during the Courier Program that she requested to serve one of her clinical rotations during her Physician Assistant training in Leslie County. Still passionate about the rural community, she took a job with the Frontier Nursing Service after graduating and moved to Leslie County in the summer of 2008.
During the four years Celeste lived and worked in Leslie County, she dedicated herself to improving the health of residents. Namely, she expanded upon “Campaign for Safe Kids” to create Child Health Day, an activity day held at each elementary school that encompassed a range of activities promoting healthy eating, fitness, hygiene, oral health and safe habits.
To say the Courier Program impacted Celeste’s life is an understatement.
In her current work as a Physician Assistant at a pediatric office in North Carolina, Celeste said the Couriers’ ideas continually motivate her. She works to “reach the unreached,” and encourages those now involved in the Courier Program to employ themselves with the same mission.
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 1928, Mary Breckinridge, founder of Frontier Nursing University established the Courier Program, recruiting young people to come work in the Kentucky Mountains and learn about service to humanity. Couriers escorted guests safely through remote terrain, delivered medical supplies to remote outpost clinics, and helped nurse-midwives during home visits and births. Frontier has benefited tremendously from the 1,600 Couriers who have served since 1928.