Hundreds gathered at the Richard M. Nixon Recreation Center in Hyden Saturday to honor a record breaking number of students - more than 500 - who graduated from Frontier Nursing University (FNU) this past year.
“Well, it's a wonderful sense of accomplishment, and it's a beautiful feeling to know that there are all these enthusiastic women and men who going out to change the face of health care in the United States,” said Lisa Pontious, recent FNU graduate.
For nearly 75 years, FNU has been training generations of nurse mid-wives and nurse practitioners. But the health care industry, by all definitions, is in a state of change. Julie Marfell, dean of nursing at the university, says she understands this well.
“The Affordable Care Act, having been passed and having been implemented, is going to change things significantly,” Marfell said.
Those changes, she says, will present both significant challenges as well as significant opportunities for tomorrow's nurses.
“Many of those individuals we have been seeing for years, even though they didn't have insurance are going to come onto the roles and be insured. It's going to be really challenging how we are going to take care of those individuals because there really aren't enough providers, but at the same time it's a wonderful opportunity for nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to make that change,” she said.
And while opinions vary, recent FNU graduates say the nature of those who practice nursing will ensure a smooth transition.
“One of the biggest characteristics of a nurse is to be prepared to be flexible, and to change with things. It’s never going to be perfect, and I think as long as keep the important thing first [I’ll be fine],” said Sherry Benner, recent FNU graduate.
That important thing to keep first? The patient. And that position, folks here say, is not up for discussion.