Paul Florsheim had always been impressed with the story of Mary Breckinridge. In 1983, inspired by her fearless service, he traveled to Leslie County, Ky., to become a Courier.
As a Courier, Paul traveled from clinic to clinic to assist doctors and nurses with routine medical procedures. Some of his more eye-opening experiences included holding down a young boy who was just six or seven years old so he could have an infected boil lanced and administrating a pregnancy test to a woman who reacted vehemently to the outcoming result. The experiences introduced Paul to the great need for compassion and kindness in medical care.
On occasion, Paul also had the opportunity to attend births at the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) hospital in Hyden, Ky. The public service physicians took him and the other Couriers under their wings and taught them about medicine and nursing in the FNS tradition.
“I was so impressed with their sense of purposefulness and goodwill,” said Paul.
During his time as a Courier, Paul got to know the people in the Hyden community. He even built a chair from scratch with one family, and to this day has the chair as a reminder of his memories serving as a Courier.
Paul is now a professor of public health and a clinical psychologist who works primarily with underserved and disadvantaged populations, a mission aligned with that of the Courier Program. His work focuses on developing programs to support the mental and relationship health of young expectant mothers and fathers during their transition to parenthood. Paul considers his most significant career accomplishment launching a new school of public health in a highly underserved area of Milwaukee, Wis.
“I have been working with midwives in prenatal clinics for many years, and when I mention I spent a summer at FNS, my credibility increases tenfold,” said Paul. “My commitment to helping expectant mothers and fathers with their transitions to parenthood certainly began at FNS!”
Paul fondly remembers his eye-opening summer at FNS and encourages other young people to take the opportunity to learn in this unique setting.
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 who 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 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.