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 healthcare to underserved and rural populations.
Heidi Carter RN, SNM knew for years that she wanted to attend Frontier Nursing University (FNU) to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) , but as a single mother with four children at home, no time seemed like a good time to get started. In October 2014, she finally decided to take the plunge, diving into CNEP/Bridge Class 129. Since Heidi’s highest degree was an associate degree in nursing, FNU’s ADN Bridge Entry Option was a perfect entry point for her to attain a master of science in nursing. It didn’t take much time for Heidi’s leap of faith to begin proving itself as one of the best decisions of her life.
Beginning her career out of high school in the Air Force, Heidi learned traits of leadership, which would prove to be of immense value in her aspirations at FNU. Today, Heidi is less than a year away from finishing her degree and is involved in numerous leadership positions, not only at FNU but also at the national level with the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM).
Her pathway to leadership at FNU began when Heidi attended Bridge Bound in Hyden to begin her studies. She immediately felt a connection with the history of FNU and the legacy of Mary Breckinridge. It was on this trip, which she describes as a “spiritual experience,” that she heard about FNU’s PRIDE program. She knew she wanted to be involved with promoting diversity in nursing and midwifery and signed up immediately. Heidi has attended the annual PRIDE Diversity Impact weekend on campus in Hyden, KY every year since, but her role has expanded. She now sits on the FNU Diversity and Inclusion committee, and she even presented at Diversity Impact in June 2017.
Soon after beginning her studies, Heidi decided to reach out to Frontier’s SAGE mentorship program to find a mentor who could help her on her pathway as a student. In a series of funny events, Heidi ended up not receiving a mentor but gaining a mentee. She found the support and co-mentoring she needed within class 129 and developed deep and lifelong friendships with many classmates. They formed a strong study group during the Bridge year, and has immense gratitude for these women. She utilizes many of the lessons learned from this experience in her mentoring for the SAGE program.
Heidi began mentoring in regards to time management, life skills and schoolwork. It didn’t take long before more students began approaching Heidi for advice and help with their studies. For the last year of didactic classes, nurse-midwives and nurse-practitioners diverged so the original study group had to separate. Heidi decided to bring some of the nurse-midwifery students she mentored together into one study group, which at one point totaled eleven. A year later, a tight-knit group of seven women have remained as one another’s study partners, including one of her original classmates from class 129.
Last but certainly not least, in her first class out of the Bridge program, Introduction to Nurse-Midwifery, yet another passion was ignited in Heidi that would lead her into perhaps her greatest leadership role. Her professor, Dr. Heather Clark, began the class with an introduction to legislative issues facing nurse-midwifery at both the state and national level. As Heidi studied nurse-midwifery legislation in her home state of Wisconsin, she knew she wanted to be more involved in creating positive change.
Attending a legislative retreat with the Wisconsin Affiliate of ACNM, Heidi met CNM’s that had been involved in nurse-midwifery legislative change for many years and was humbled by their dedication and work done at both the local and national level.
Soon after, Heidi became FNU’s student legislative contact (SLC) for ACNM’s Midwives Political Action Committee (Midwives-PAC), joining a team of students from nearly every nurse-midwifery program in the U.S. When Heidi recruited 25 other student legislative contacts from FNU, doubling the size of the contacts in the nation, she caught the attention of the ACNM. Today, Heidi is no longer one of FNU’s student legislative contacts, but is one of the recently announced Student Representative’s on the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) at the national level. Her duties now include leading the SLC meeting at the ACNM Annual Meeting, assisting with the Midwives-PAC rally, attend all Midwives-GAC meetings as a full voting member, inform SLC’s about current and upcoming legislation, encourage participation in current political action, lead recruitment and organization of student volunteers in the annual PAC-a-thon, and lead quarterly SLC conference calls. She has also been tasked with further development of the SLC role into more specific state and federal grassroots efforts.
Heidi has earned a number of awards, including the 2016 FNU Kitty Ernst Leadership award, and the 2017 Varney Participant Award. FNU’s Kitty Ernst Leadership award is a faculty nominated award for students that show leadership, academic excellence, and excellent clinical judgement. It is awarded yearly to one CNEP student and one FNP student during the graduation ceremony. The Varney Participant Award is a highly competitive award among all Nurse-Midwifery students in the nation. Two students are selected for this award every year and it enables student midwives to attend and participate in the ACNM Annual Meeting under the mentorship of an established leader in the field of nurse-midwifery. Helen Varney Burst, MSN, CNM, DHL (Hon.), FACNM is the author of Varney’s Midwifery, and started this mentorship in 2000. The original mentor was Helen Varney herself, followed by Mary C. Brucker, CNM, PhD, FACNM, and is now Heather Bradford, CNM, ARNP, FACNM. The Varney Participants continue to keep in touch and provide support throughout each others careers. Heidi was also awarded the GlaxoSmithKline TUMS Consumer Health Care Scholarship from the ACNM Foundation.
“I have never gone after leadership positions,” said Heidi. “I’m not the type of person that craves attention and wants to be in charge necessarily. But for some reason, I always find myself in a leadership role and it always amazes me.”
Well, Heidi, the Frontier community thinks you are a great leader and we are extremely thankful for all that you do to advocate for our university, your classmates, and Nurse-Midwifery. We look forward to watching your career unfold!