Alumni Spotlight: Kelly Polcher, DNP, APRN, NP­C

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.

Kelly Polcher began searching online in 2009 for a Family Nurse Practitioner program to advance her nursing career. Although there is an FNP program at a local university, Kelly was impressed with Frontier Nursing University (FNU), especially since those she spoke with highly praised FNU’s programs.  She also enjoyed the warm reception she received when talking with Frontier employees about applying for the program. Kelly wasn’t alone; she and a friend in her community were both accepted into the FNP 72 class and provided moral support for each other while going through the program.  


After Kelly graduated with her FNP, she began working full time at Family Health Care in Fargo, North Dakota. After taking a year off from school, Kelly, along with two classmates from FNP class 72 decided to return to Frontier to complete the doctoral program. She entered the FNU doctoral program in January 2013 and completed in the spring of 2014.


Kelly was attracted to work at Family Health Care because it is a community health center that provides care for underserved populations and incorporates women’s health into its focus. Kelly is proud to have been a part of the growth and expansion of the large clinic. When she started working there, it was housed in a 20,000 square foot office, and the homeless health clinic was based in the basement of a nearby church. With federal funding, grants, tax credits and fundraising efforts, the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), was able to expand  to four adjacent buildings with approximately 50,000 square feet of space. Kelly says the staff and providers are proud that their gorgeous, modern facility with state-of-the-art equipment matches the high quality care of the providers who serve their patients, and that their patients feel comfortable in the new clinic site. Family Health Care is now able to offer more services than before.


The FNU grad loves to be able to give back to her community by working with the homeless, refugees, and indigent patients within the community. In April 2016, Family Healthcare opened its first satellite clinic in West Fargo, ND. Kelly will be transferring there in July to be one of two providers at the new clinic. The other provider will be a nurse-midwife. Kelly hopes that this clinic will allow Family Healthcare to further expand their services and care to more individuals in the community while still providing great primary care, prenatal and women’s health services.


Kelly is proud that Family Health Care incorporates a dental clinic, vision care, and behavioral health to promote holistic care for their broad and diverse group of patients. The clinic has the only Homeless Health Clinic in North Dakota, and is also contracted with the local refugee resettlement agency, supported by federal programs, to provide refugee screenings for the approximately 400 refugees accepted into Fargo each year­­ most recently from Somalia, Bhutan, and Iraq. The local agency, Lutheran Social Services helps refugees with initial housing, financial support, jobs and English language training. Kelly’s clinic screens refugees within 60 days of arrival in the New American and Refugee Clinic for infections, immunization updates and to help them with urgent health care needs such as medications for chronic conditions. Her clinic is able to help with Affordable Care Act registration support to help patients enroll in healthcare coverage. The clinic and it’s affiliated clinic also offer coverage to qualified homeless health and uninsured individuals through sliding fee services.


Kelly loves that the clinic’s mission aligns with the training she had at Frontier, which emphasized service to the underserved. Her clinic’s mission is to make healthcare accessible to everyone,­­ to take away barriers, and to provide comprehensive care with a community-based approach. The clinic treats patients and families from newborn to geriatric, and with a full scope of preventive services with a collaborative, team­-based approach by the healthcare practitioners.


Kelly explained that many patients who have not had health care services are not accustomed to consistent preventive care, and have relied on visits to emergency rooms in the past. Patients who have not had access often present with uncontrolled conditions such as diabetes. So the clinic staff and practitioners endeavor to educate patients and promote consistent preventive screenings and consistent care for chronic conditions to improve health, including mental well­being.   As part of her DNP studies, Kelly implemented a universal mental health screening process at Family Healthcare for newly arrived refugees in Fargo.  The results of this pilot study were published by Kelly and her faculty chairperson March 2015 in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health.

Thanks for all that you do for the underserved, Kelly! FNU is proud to have alumni like you.

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