Frontier Nursing University - A Journey Through Time

Honoring our past, focusing on our future.

Frontier Nursing University (FNU) has evolved dramatically throughout its more than 75-year history. Mary Breckinridge, Frontier’s founder, was a compassionate and visionary pioneer nurse who, with her nurse colleagues, traveled on horseback to deliver care and attend births in Kentucky’s rural Appalachian mountains.;xNLx;;xNLx;Mrs. Breckinridge’s vision was to have her mission expanded and replicated across the nation and the world. Accordingly, in the decades that followed, Frontier dramatically extended its outreach, without veering from our core commitment of caring for women and families. Now, with more than 4,000 graduates, Frontier nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners bring their compassion and professionalism to rural and underserved communities, worldwide.;xNLx;;xNLx;FNU is an internationally recognized and highly rated graduate nursing university - providing doctoral and master’s degrees for nurses and midwives, while concurrently stressing the importance of compassion and caring with each of our students.;xNLx;;xNLx;Without the determination and dedication of Mary Breckinridge, and all who have made her bold vision a reality - our alumni, students, faculty, staff, Couriers, preceptors, supporters and friends – FNU would not be the top-rated, mission-focused university we are today.;xNLx;;xNLx;This timeline highlights the important events leading up to our founding in 1939 and just some of the many ‘milestones’ we have reached in more than seven decades since. We look forward to our future with optimism, and with a renewed commitment to serve.;xNLx;;xNLx;FNU proudly claims the following:;xNLx;;xNLx;+ 75 years of experience in graduate nursing and midwifery education;xNLx;;xNLx;+ Oldest and largest continually operating nurse-midwifery education program in the United States;xNLx; ;xNLx;+ First family nurse practitioner program in the country;xNLx;;xNLx;+ Pioneered the first midwifery community based distance education program in the United States in 1989;xNLx;;xNLx;+ More than 4,000 nurses and midwives have graduated with advanced practice degrees;xNLx;;xNLx;+ Students and alumni represent every U.S. state and many foreign countries;xNLx;;xNLx;+ Named a “Great College to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education;xNLx;;xNLx;+ Ranked by US News & World Report in the Top 30 Online Graduate Nursing Schools;xNLx;;xNLx;+ Frontier Nursing University's programs are consistently ranked among the top in the nation.

1881-09-01 00:00:00

Mary Breckinridge Born

Frontier founder and pioneer nurse Mary Breckinridge is born in Memphis, Tenn. Many experiences and opportunities lead Mary to devoting her life to the service of others.

1910-09-01 00:00:00

Mary Breckinridge Graduates

Mary Breckinridge graduates from St. Luke’s Hospital Training School for Nurses in New York.

1916-07-11 15:17:27

Mary Breckinridge is Inspired by Her Own Tragedy

Mary Breckinridge’s newborn daughter, Polly, dies, followed two years later by the unexpected death of her four-year-old son, Breckie. The deaths of her two children spark an overwhelming motivation to devote her life to the care of children.

1918-01-25 01:06:04

Mary Breckinridge Begins Work with Midwives in France

Mary Breckinridge joins the American Committee for Devastated France to help those who were starving in French villages, a task that would strongly shape her resolve, her purpose and her future. Her experience of working with midwives and nurse-midwives while serving on this Committee leads her to conclude that nurse-midwifery services are a logical solution to many health problems in her home country. Back home in Kentucky, progressive reforms had improved the lives of women and children, especially in America’s cities. But children in remotely rural regions had been neglected.

1923-02-19 12:12:07

Survey Reveals Need For Nursing

Mary Breckinridge conducts a survey of Leslie County, Ky., and verifies the need for nursing and midwifery services in the area.

1924-02-19 12:12:07

Mary Breckinridge Completes Midwifery Training

Mary Breckinridge completes midwifery training in Woolwich, England, and returns to rural Kentucky. Inspired by the knowledge she gained abroad and the evident need for nursing services in rural Kentucky, Mary Breckinridge is instrumental in establishing the Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies. This is the first organization in America to use nurses trained as midwives under the direction of a single medical doctor.

1925-02-19 12:12:07

500 People Arrive at The Big House

Five hundred people arrive at the Big House at Wendover, Mary Breckinridge’s home, for a Christmas party and house dedication.

1926-02-19 12:12:07

First Rural Outpost Clinic Opens

The first rural outpost clinic, the Jessie Draper Memorial Nursing Center (Beech Fork Clinic) opens.

1928-07-02 11:14:44

Frontier Nursing Service Named

The name of the Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies is changed to the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS). To learn more about the Courier Program which continues today visit

1928-08-02 11:14:44

Hyden Hospital Opens

The Hyden Hospital opens, staffed by Frontier Nursing Service nurse-midwives and one physician.

Frontier Nursing University - A Journey Through Time

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