Each summer, Frontier Nursing University (FNU) welcomes qualified, motivated students to Hyden, Ky. to participate in the eight-week Courier Program, originally established by Mary Breckinridge in 1928. Though the program has continued over nine decades, its goal remains the same: To recruit young people for a service-learning experience among the communities of Eastern Kentucky.
Since its beginning, over 1,600 Couriers have served this noble cause. Two years ago, FNU introduced the Courier Coffee vlog series, videos showcasing present and former Frontier Couriers and how their experiences have impacted their lives today.
In the most recent episodes, two Couriers that served in summer of 2016 share how their time in service has given them a better understanding of the needs and culture of underserved populations.
In Episode 18, Jonathan Allotey, BA explains that his relationships with people in Hyden and surrounding areas as a Courier shaped his future as a healthcare provider.
A Ghana native, Jonathan is now earning his MS in Physiology from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon acceptance to the Courier program in 2016, he was nervous about being accepted by the Appalachian community as a black immigrant, but left with a “cultural humility” that helps him see every person in the same light.
“Frontier Nursing University and the people of Eastern Kentucky warmly welcomed me,” said Jonathan. He emphasized that living and working alongside practitioners in an underserved area helped him break down the walls between him and people that come from different backgrounds.
Jonathan was also inspired by watching health care providers in those rural areas shift the thinking of a whole population through community-based care, like support groups and health clinics.
“Every student who considers going into healthcare should strongly consider applying and participating in the Courier program,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time here as a Courier.”
In Episode 17, May Congdon discusses why the Courier program experience is one she recommends for others.
May, who graduated with a BA in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, works at a reproductive health clinic. Her service as a Courier in 2016 showed her the joy of treating her current patients authentically and holistically. May split her time between a faith-based health clinic and a hospice, where she said she experienced diversity amongst patients’ backgrounds and religious beliefs.
“The Courier Program has inspired me to be a dedicated public servant and to approach each patient interaction free of judgment or stereotype,” she said.
May has stayed connected with Frontier by joining the Courier Advisory Committee, helping lead the future of the Courier Program.
“It was a joy to be here,” she said. “Seeing this program continue and become stronger is very rewarding for me.”
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.
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.