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 health care to underserved and rural populations.
In 1928, Mary Breckinridge, founder of Frontier Nursing University established the Courier Program, recruiting young people to 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.
Edith Conyers traveled to Wendover in the 1960s to serve as a Courier in her early college days. No one in Edith’s family had experience in the medical professions, but her mother was intrigued by Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) so she encouraged Edith and her sister to look into the Courier Program.
Growing up near Cincinnati, they met many people with connections to FNS. After her sister Ruth participated, Edith decided she wanted to take part in the opportunity as well. Debating over what major to choose in college, she thought the Courier Program may give her a sense of direction and clarity as to what she wanted to do with her life.
As a Courier, Edith took care of the horses and FNS jeeps. When she was not at Wendover, Edith would travel to outpost clinics, taking care of the horses there and helping the nurses as needed.
A great deal of her time as a Courier was spent transporting patients to the children’s hospital in Cincinnati. Edith remembers the children often had relatives in the area but when she offered them a telephone to call them, the children would be confused as they had never used a telephone before.
“The lack of a telephone was indicative of the fact that they had never been out of the mountains. That was a very educational thing for me to have experienced at that age,” said Edith.
Edith remembers her time spent at Wendover with the other Couriers. They did not do many things together, but they always ate meals with one another and enjoyed tea time with Mary Breckinridge who came to tea every day in the Big House. According to Edith, Breckinridge was respected and admired by all at FNS and in the local community.
“It was a life changing experience for me,” said Edith.
Edith now gives credit to her time as a Courier for making her interested in pursuing a career in nursing.
Edith went to nursing school and went on to become a nurse practitioner. During her breaks in nursing school, she returned to Wendover to help. It was rewarding for her to return and help provide healthcare to the community.
“I am grateful for the opportunities and direction FNS has provided in my life and am excited that the program continues to do the same for others today,” said Edith.
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Versailles, KY 40383