Frontier Nursing University All-Access Podcast, Episode 4 Transcript
The Courier Program
Please enjoy this transcript of the Frontier Nursing University All-Access Podcast! This podcast provides a closer look at Frontier Nursing University through lively and entertaining discussions with a wide variety of guests and topics.
Angela Bailey: Hello and welcome to the Frontier Nursing University All-Access Podcast. I’m Angela Bailey, Chief Advancement Officer, and your host for this adventure. I’d like to welcome you all to the on-call lounge here on the Frontier Nursing University campus in beautiful Versailles, Kentucky. Within this inaugural season, we give you an all-access pass to delve deeper into Frontier Nursing University and all of the individuals who are making a daily difference in advanced practice nursing, midwifery, education, and healthcare across the country.
Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Kayla White, Peter Coffin, and Nancy Reinhart to the on-call lounge to discuss the Courier summer internship program that is offered by Frontier Nursing University. The program is an eight-week summer internship in which students live on our campus and are immersed in activities to help them understand the unique challenges of rural health care and health disparities experienced by rural and underserved populations. Couriers volunteer, job shadow, and observe with a hearts-on hands-off attitude.
Couriers are expected to develop a project at their site and to help sites with any needs that they may have like creating a health fair or creating community outreach initiatives. Couriers also complete community service hours at a secondary site and will complete even more projects to help the community. That was a short overview of the Courier Program, but today is really about the three of you, and I just want to say thank you for joining me today.
As you know, the Courier Program is very near and dear to heart, and I think that I know that it’s very special to each of you as well. If you don’t mind, I’d like to start by letting each of you introduce yourself and explain how you’re connected to the Courier Program. Peter, would you like to go first?
Peter Coffin: Sure, Angie, and let me just say it’s a pleasure to be here and talking with you all. I’ve been a longtime fan of Frontier Nursing University and the work that’s been done by the university to bring nursing to so many parts of the country through its educational programming. We just thought at my company that the Courier Program really was emblematic of much of the Frontier mission in that it gave an opportunity for young people who were passionate about providing healthcare in underserved populations – gave them a window and an opportunity to work and fulfill that goal and that passion. We were really pleased to support it at my company, Breckinridge Capital Advisors.
Angela: Peter, that’s not the only way you’re connected to the Couriers, is it? Or to Frontier Nursing University?
Peter: I have a little family connection that goes way back in that my middle name is Breckinridge, and so I’ve long been familiar with the organization, and of course, the fine work of Mary Breckinridge, and so that was indeed the connection. I must state quite emphatically that created a connection, but the love and respect and our enthusiasm throughout the entire company for supporting the work of Frontier Nursing University and the Courier Program really grew as I got better and better acquainted with the organization and its work.
Angela: Peter also serves as a member of our Board of Directors. He is that passionate about Frontier and we are so thankful, Peter, for you, for Breckinridge Capital Advisors, and for your many staff who work with us hand in hand and have even come down and witnessed some of our programs like Diversity Impact and the Courier Program. We’re just really thankful to have you guys as partners.
Peter: It’s been a great partnership and it’s been a privilege for all of us at Breckinridge.
Angela: Thank you. All right, Nancy, I think you have a little bit of a connection with the Courier Program as well. Would you like to introduce yourself and talk about that?
Nancy Reinhardt: I would. My name is Nancy Reinhart and I was a Courier in the summer of 1998 after my junior year in college, and at the time, I was already pretty far advanced in my political science major. I came to Frontier through the Courier summer internship program at the prompting of a professor of mine. I was originally from Kentucky, I was going to school out of state and he said, “Hey, I think you’d really love to go and do this. It seems like it’d be right up your alley,” and so I did it. Little did he know it would change the direction of my life permanently. I came and I served as an intern throughout that summer and it really did change my life.
I got to see my first birth, the birth of twins with a midwife, and actually, Dr. Sue Stone was a midwife in Hyden at the time that I was there, so I got to know her way back then. Fast forward, many years I remained a supporter and involved in Frontier’s mission based on the way it had changed my life. Then there was a time period where there was a desire and a need to re-envision the Courier Program as Frontier Nursing Service closed and the university took over the remaining pieces of the mission. The desire was to continue the Courier Program without interruption.
I got involved and took that job and took on the reinvention of the program under slightly different settings, and it continues to this day under that. I worked in that job for several years, and then I got further infected by the bug of Frontier and decided to become a midwife. Took on that long journey of education and now I’m a midwife. Proudly a Frontier midwife.
Angela: You still serve on the Courier Advisory Committee, so you still have your hand in there.
Nancy: I do, and here I am on the podcast today.
Angela: That’s right. Once you get involved with Frontier, we just never let you go.
Nancy: That’s right. We’re not letting y’all go either.
Angela: Last, but certainly not least is Kayla White. Kayla has an interesting history at Frontier as well. Kayla, do you want to introduce yourself and tell us about what you’re doing these days?
Kayla: Sure. I’ve been with Frontier for a little over three and a half years and actually started my journey with Frontier in the clinical credentialing department. I worked with students as they completed their clinical rotations. Then I’ve been with the Courier Program since May of this year (2021), and so far, most of what we’ve been focused on this year is re-envisioning and what the program is going to look like on our new campus here in Versailles. I’m trying to get all those pieces in place and figure out what this is going to look like going forward.
Angela: Right, and as Nancy said, it still is the same program. We’ve just moved it out of the mountains of Eastern Kentucky to our rural campus in Woodford County, Kentucky. But we’re also heading a couple of new things, Kayla, would you like to talk about the additions to the program?
Kayla: Sure. I think the biggest thing is we are going to incorporate an online course for our Couriers to complete as they go through the summer to add more of an educational component so that the Couriers can be out in the community at clinical sites shadowing practitioners, and then when they are off the clock, so to speak, they will be going online doing a course just to learn a little bit more about how all the pieces of public healthcare and rural healthcare fit together. I think that’ll be the biggest addition. We’re really excited about that, and I think that’s going to add a really special piece to the Courier Program.
Angela: I agree, and just for Peter and Nancy and for our listeners, that actual online course will begin before they ever get to Kentucky. Every year, we take in between 10 and 12 college students who are interested in nursing, medicine, public health, any of those fields and we enroll them in this program. Traditionally, they have begun their program by attending our Diversity Impact Program, which helps to educate and make people more aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.
This time when we open up the program again because it’s been closed down for two years, right, Kayla, with the pandemic, but we are crossing our fingers and very hopeful that we will have prayers in Versailles this coming summer. Anyway, they will actually get immersed in Frontier before they even come to campus. They will have access to this online course, access to the readings, and they will be asked to do a little bit of homework before they join us so that when they get to campus, they not only know what to expect but they’re ready to hit the ground running. We’re really excited about that. Kayla, would you like to talk a little bit about the new accommodations for the Couriers on campus?
Kayla: I think this is what you’re really excited about, Angie. We are so excited too. Actually, we will have a Courier house on our Versailles Campus. When we first moved to Versailles, it was used as office space and we’re going to redo it and get it looking a little bit better and that’s where the Couriers will stay. We’re excited that they’ll be on campus, they’ll be able to interact with our students, our faculty, and our staff. We feel like it will be maybe a bit more immersive with them on campus and they can see what it’s like to be a Frontier student and getting ready to go out and actually practice in the real world.
Angela: Nancy, one of the things I learned from you when you were the Courier Coordinator was how having the Couriers all living and working in a very close area – even though we did have some Couriers at homestays and more distance – was a big part of their learning was about those internal relationships and how to manage their feelings and experiences with their fellow Couriers. We’re excited about the idea that they’re all going to be staying in one house; boys in the basement, girls upstairs and we will have a living area in the middle. They will even get to do some fun activities where they’ll be cooking and planning meals for themselves based on the budget of a family with food stamps.
That’s when we don’t have meals on campus because our students aren’t there seven days a week. Anyway, we have lots of great things in store and have plans. Of course, it’s all over our Courier website that you can get to by going to our Frontier website at www.frontier.edu and then clicking on “get involved” and you’ll see all the information about our Courier Program. I can talk about the Courier Program all day long and I think that we’ve done a little bit of a good overview. I will tell you guys, our listeners, that I promised Nancy and Peter that I wouldn’t give them any bad surprises in that all the questions would be easy, but I did not promise that there wouldn’t be any good surprises.
Now we have some surprises for you guys. Each year, Frontier Nursing University gives annual alumni courier and lifetime achievement awards to honor individuals who have shown exemplary service to the university and to the community. Specifically, the Courier Program Unbridled Spirit Award is given annually to a former Courier who has carried the torch of Mary Breckinridge beyond the mountains, perpetuating the mission and spirit of Frontier in their own lives. The criteria for this award include dedication to serving others, ongoing long-standing stewardship of Frontier, and demonstration of personal conviction, courage, and a zest for adventure.
I could not be more proud than to announce that this year’s Unbridled Spirit Award goes to Nancy Reinhart. Yay. [claps] You guys can’t see Nancy, but she’s tearing up. [laughs] Let’s give her a moment. You guys, Nancy, when I first came to Frontier, was one of those people that shows you the unwritten rules and helps you understand the culture. Not only did she provide that for me, but I think that she provided that same support to the Couriers and helped them to understand what the culture, unwritten, in Eastern Kentucky and in rural and underserved communities were.
She was so dedicated to making sure that they understood the disparities that are faced. She’s just pretty wonderful and we’re really proud of her. Nancy, are you good to say anything?
Nancy: I’m just totally shocked. That was a big surprise. That wasn’t a little surprise.
Angela: I’m sorry, but we wanted to really honor you and we did want to make it a surprise. I’m going to give you a moment because that’s not the only surprise we have today.
Nancy: I really appreciate it. That’s a tremendous honor, it really is a tremendous honor, so thank you for thinking of me. Thank you all for thinking of me.
Angela: Oh, you are quite welcome.
Nancy: I hope I continue to live up to the award of a lifelong service because that’s really what it’s about.
Angela: Absolutely, and you certainly exemplify that. Thank you, Nancy. The surprise, as I said, doesn’t end with Nancy. Another award given annually is the Lifetime Service Award which recognizes an individual or organization providing long-standing support and commitment to the mission and work of Frontier Nursing Service and Frontier Nursing University. It is my honor to announce that this year the Lifetime Service Award goes to Peter Coffin. Peter, congratulations.
Peter: Angie, oh my goodness, thank you very much. I am so honored to get an award like that from as fine an organization with so many devoted, passionate people, I’m humbled by what all of them do and it’s been an honor for me to have a very, very small part. Anyway, I look forward to, like Nancy, trying to live up to this very high honor and continue to help Frontier in all its great work and so many wonderful people all across the country connected to the organization. This is truly an honor. Thank you so much.
Angela: Oh, you’re welcome, and thank you. Peter probably doesn’t remember, but the very first time I met him we were having dinner and he asked all of these wonderful questions. Peter, you don’t know this, but you really helped me that day because I was new to Frontier at that point. It was a primer for me about what other people may ask. I walked away from that conversation, not only learning quite a bit about you and your lovely family but also with a deeper understanding of what donors want to know. I was so thankful for that very warm welcome from somebody who was on the Board and a family member of Mary Breckenridge. I really appreciated that, so thank you.
Nancy: I can also add a story because I’m not sure that we’ve ever talked about it, but I was always very nervous in my role as the Courier Program coordinator to meet with former Couriers and people connected to the program and donors because I had to travel everywhere to meet people. Often I had talked to people on the phone, but that was the extent of my knowledge, and so I would show up never having met people and tried to do my best. A lot of times people had visions of what they had experienced as a Courier or wanted to know how things had changed. Sometimes great conversations, sometimes difficult conversations.
I remember when we went to Massachusetts, I had heard a lot about the committee there and all the things and we were going for the event that you all had and you and your wife put me at great ease. I wanted to thank you for that as well because maybe it’s something you’ve heard from other people and I hope you have, but definitely, the quality of being able to be put at ease is something that is very valuable and very appreciated, so I felt welcome.
Peter: We were thrilled to have you and it was much fun and it was a delightful event. There are so many good, faithful supporters and friends of Frontier Nursing University in Massachusetts and New England. I’m looking forward to the day when we can all get back together again. Nancy, I hope we can talk you into making another journey up there to see us.
Angela: Absolutely. Before we go, we haven’t really told any fun Courier stories, and, Nancy, I have to ask, what is your favorite Courier story?
Nancy: Is this in terms of me as a Courier or me as a Courier coordinator? Because, girl, I’ve got all kinds.
Angela: I’ll let you choose because both of those sound fun.
Nancy: I think that for the virtue of this podcast if it’s going to be especially listened to by people who are considering the experience. I always say this and I’ll say this again, it’s true that I feel like the thing that I always like to lift up the most about the Courier Program is the power and the wisdom and the incredible imprint that the people of Eastern Kentucky can make on all of us and the people of Kentucky in general.
I come from the area, lived there for a long time, hope to move back there, currently working in another state. But I’m always talking about Kentucky because we certainly have our challenges as a state, but we have so many wonderful things, by the way, of rich culture. And so I feel like that is one of the things that Couriers benefit from the most is meeting Kentuckians and getting to be deeply involved in those relationships even if for a short time.
With that, one of the biggest imprints made upon me, I would say, in terms of relationship was the relationship I had with Sherman Wooten, who he had relationships with so many Couriers, but I really wanted to make a traditional Appalachian rocking chair. When I got there, he would work with Couriers on small wood projects and I went over to see him and he said, “Girl, I think you’re crazy. You’re not going to be able to make a rocking chair.” I said, “Sherman, that’s what I want to do. I want to make a rocker.” He said, “Here’s what you got to do.” I’ll give Sherman credit, he let me off a little easy because even though I showed up every time he said I should show up and he taught me how to plan and do all the things, Sherman ended up doing some of the work that he said he was going to make me do all of it, but he would have fish fries and dances.
Of course, he was a wonderful musician and a crotchety old man, but he was just a really, really great Appalachian craftsman and a good person and I enjoyed the time he spent with me that he didn’t have to do. We still have that rocker and my dad who passed away this year would sit in that rocker almost every day. I’ll always remember both my dad and Sherman when I get that rocking chair back one day from my family home. It’s a cherished memory of my time with Frontier.
Angela: I love it. When you were talking about the connections to the people in Kentucky, and by the way, I’m so sorry about the passing of your dad, what a marvelous man he was. I enjoyed being able to know him. But being connected to those folks in Kentucky this last year that we did the Courier Program before the pandemic, one of our Couriers was actually a young woman from Hyden, Kentucky, and her father was a miner at the Black Jewel Mine. I don’t know if our listeners really know what happened, but while she was a Courier that summer, the Black Jewel Mine paid all of their employees on Friday, then Monday of the next week after they had paid their bills and stuff, it turns out that all those checks had bounced and all of those miners lost the money and the mine was shut down. Our other Couriers who were from other areas of the country, many from very affluent families, got to experience firsthand what the mining culture and what issues come with that from one of their own friends. It was such an interesting opening and humbling experience for many of those Couriers. While we focus on public health and those kinds of things, the benefits of being a Courier are just so multifaceted.
I think that was one of my favorite examples of the Courier Program. Now, I can’t let Peter and Kayla go without one more question. My question to you is pretty simple. Would you guys like to share a favorite memory about Frontier or something that sticks out in your mind when you think about Frontier and/or the Courier Program?
Peter: I’ll just say I’ve loved whenever I’ve visited Kentucky, whether all the way down in Hyden, or at the anniversary celebration there was in Lexington, but the opportunity to meet the people, other Couriers, faculty, students, has always been a big thrill. I know, as I think was mentioned, we have sent employees from Breckinridge down who’ve participated in the Courier Bound. They’ve come back with their stories having made important connections and furthered their understanding of the need and the importance of Frontier’s great work. I have lots of wonderful memories and it’s been very heartwarming and fun. I have a great deal of fun every time I visit.
Angela: We have them when you visit too, Peter.
Peter: Got to get back there soon.
Angela: Yes. Kayla, would you like to add anything?
Kayla: I obviously don’t have any Courier stories because we haven’t had Couriers since I’ve been in this role, but I have been with Frontier for three and a half years and have loved every minute and the way that Frontier just treats, not only its employees but people, in general, has really blown me away. I hope that when we get this Courier Program back up and running after the pandemic has settled down, I hope that our Couriers can experience the good things that I’ve experienced while I’ve been here at Frontier as well.
Angela: I’m so glad that you mentioned the people of Frontier because that is why I am truly blessed and why it’s so easy for me to get up out of bed every morning because I get to work and know people like Nancy and Peter and Kayla and our wonderful Couriers. I just want to say thank you to all of you guys for being here today. Nancy, would you like to add something? She’s waving at me, y’all, you can’t see her.
Nancy: Yes, so I guess one of the things I just didn’t want to end the program without mentioning is that, while it’s not perfect, I think the Courier Program is a really important way that we can further unpack power dynamics within Frontier and thinking about the roles of the server and the served and thinking about the ways in which we are not going to help the lowly people of Kentucky. We’re always trying to work with the Couriers on ways to think about our roles as medical professionals and think about the ways we work with our clients and the ways that we meet them where they’re at and treating them as the center of their own medical – they have the best solutions to their own problems. With that, and then including the Couriers in the Diversity Impact, then I know we have a focus on trying to diversify our Courier interns as well, I just feel like it’s an important part and we’ll continue to hopefully grow into an even more important part of the way that we are working on racial reckoning within Frontier and issues of gender and all kinds of things that still are very painful in the community and our country.
It’s an important piece of that that we work very consciously within the Courier Program to do what we can to help unpack those dynamics and to hopefully bring a higher level of self-awareness and consciousness to those involved in coming to an area perhaps that many of them are unfamiliar with in terms of both culture and socioeconomics. In some cases, that also takes the form of people of color coming to serve a majority-white rural population and all the things that can be involved in that. Not always perfect, but certainly part of the attempt to work on these deeply troubling issues.
Angela: That’s one of the beautiful things about the Courier Program is because it opens the door for a deeper meaning to all of these different experiences and for the Couriers to have a platform to reflect and discuss and to learn. Nancy, we need to have you come down and hang out with Kayla now for a day, though, and we need to have you come see our Couriers too. You guys are wonderful. Again, thank you. Congratulations to you, Nancy, and to you, Peter, we so appreciate you.
Peter: Thank you.
Angela: I’m so glad to have you here today and as a part of our community because you are both truly a part of our community. Miss Kayla, I am so thrilled that you are on the team and leading this charge. I can’t wait for everyone to get to know you and for you to have your first group of Couriers. It’s going to be wonderful. To our listeners, thank you for joining us today to learn more about the Courier Program. If you would like to learn even more, then you can, please go to frontier.edu and click the “get involved” link at the top of the page. From there, you can apply or learn more or even make a donation to support the program. As always, thank you for joining Frontier Nursing University All-Access.
We hope that you have enjoyed our conversation. If you would like to learn more about Frontier and how you can make a difference for mothers, babies, and families across the country, please visit our website at frontier.edu, or you can reach out to me, your All-Access host at email@example.com. If you have enjoyed this podcast, and we certainly hope that you have, please remember to rate, review, and subscribe. Until next time, thank you for listening.