With roots tracing back to the early 1900s, Frontier Nursing University (FNU) is a school rich in history. The “FNU Traditions” blog series will give the friends and family of FNU a greater understanding of our many traditions, several of which date back to the days of our founder, Mary Breckinridge.
Our last two blogs in this series have explored our faculty-led and student-led traditions on campus and around Wendover dinners during Bound sessions. But did you know that our Bridge students participate in their own set of traditions?
The FNU Bridge Entry Option is created for the registered nurse who has the desire to become a certified nurse-midwife or family nurse practitioner and has an associate’s degree as the highest degree earned. The Bridge Entry Option coursework is completed in one year in an intensive, accelerated format that bridges the gap from the associate’s degree content to meet the requirements of The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. Upon completion of the Bridge year, the student is prepared for the rigors of the graduate program. For more information about the Bridge Entry Option, please visit our webpage.
Students complete the Bridge coursework as a cohort. As a result, many traditions have become part of the Bridge year. Here are just a few traditions specific to our Bridge students:
Structured Mentoring Program: The most unique feature of the Bridge program is its structured mentoring program. When students come to Bridge Bound, the initial welcome into the FNU community prior to classes beginning, they are matched with a mentor. Mentors are Bridge students on campus for Crossing the Bridge, the final intensive, on-campus session before students move on to their clinical speciality coursework in the graduate program.
As Crossing students are completing their Bridge year, they are able to begin walking with Bridge Bound students as they take their first steps into the Bridge journey. Some mentoring groups bring goody bags for their mentees, with small items symbolizing aspects of their journey that provide encouragement, humor, and even tears. Mentors remain connected with their mentees after Bridge Bound in a variety of ways, whether by phone, email, or Facebook groups. Whenever Bridge students have questions or need advice, they know they have someone to lean on who has been through the process.
Class Mascot: Over the years, the mentoring program has evolved into a very personal and vital part of the Bridge experience. Another tradition that is important to Bridge students is the class mascot. The mascots are chosen because of the symbolism they represent for the students. For example, one group chose an elephant as their mascot to symbolize the old proverb when things begin to feel overwhelming: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
A number of Bridge classes use their mascot to create a Facebook group that allows students to stay connected to their mentors. The mascot helps create a team bond as the students go through their courses, remembering they have others to lean on. This structure has encouraged many students to stay connected, often long after their time at FNU is over.
Crossing the Bridge: When students return to campus for Crossing the Bridge, they can expect to take part in a long-time tradition involving the old swinging bridge at Wendover. Years ago, students would actually cross the bridge as a symbol of their next step into their clinical specialty coursework. For safety reasons, students now line up in front of the bridge for a photo, followed by circle-up time and a final reflection. During the circle-up, students are reminded of the symbolism of the bridge and the history of the bridges that were once used for Frontier Nursing Service nurse-midwives to reach women in the mountains and hollers.
Stay tuned for a blog featuring our student’s take on FNU traditions!