1. Nelson, Roxanne BSN


AJN talks to the first male president of the American Nurses Association.


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Ernest Grant always knew he wanted a career in health care. And while his original goal was to be an anesthesiologist, once he started his career in nursing he never left the profession. Now he's an internationally recognized burn care and fire safety expert, overseeing the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, and the incoming president of the American Nurses Association (ANA). Grant, who was elected on June 23 by the ANA Membership Assembly and began his two-year term of service on January 1, is also the first man in the association's history to hold that office. "I feel very honored to serve as president of the ANA," he recently told AJN. "I realize I am standing on the shoulders of giants who have served before me." On being the first male president of an organization that represents an overwhelmingly female profession, Grant joked, "Well, it only took 122 years to reach this point."

Figure. Ernest Grant... - Click to enlarge in new window Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. Photo by Max Englund / UNC Health Care.


As the youngest of seven children growing up in a single-parent household, Grant didn't have the money to attend college, and the odds of his being able to afford medical school were slim. But a guidance counselor suggested Grant go to nursing school-it was a faster route to health care, and then he could work his way through medical school. The quickest path to becoming a nurse was to be an LPN, so Grant attended Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, which was close to his hometown of Swannanoa in the mountains of North Carolina. He graduated and began working on a medical-surgical unit. After only six months, he knew nursing would be his career.


Grant explained that even though this was the 1970s and there were even fewer men in nursing than now, he always had support from his friends and family. Because of his stature-he's 6'6'-some nurses viewed him as someone to help lift and move patients. Grant pointed out that while he was always willing to help, there were times when he needed to explain that he was an equal, not an orderly.


Because of the nursing shortage at that time, Grant had permission to undergo advanced training in the ICU, and in the early 1980s he moved to Chapel Hill to begin work at the Jaycee Burn Center. But he soon realized that he was somewhat limited by his LPN license and wanted to provide more services than his credentials allowed. He returned to school and earned a bachelor of science in nursing from North Carolina Central University in 1985. While working at the burn center, he became an outreach clinician, which involved educating the public on fire safety and reducing burn-related injuries. "That motivated me to go back to school again, get my MSN, and start working at the legislative level," he said, in order to pass legislation that would promote fire and burn safety.


Grant received his master of science in nursing in 1993 and PhD in 2015, both from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and became increasingly involved in nursing and other professional organizations as "one chairmanship led to another and then to board positions."


Grant is currently chair of the National Fire Protection Association board of directors, second vice president of the American Burn Association board of trustees, and a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Chi Eta Phi Sorority, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. He previously served as president of the North Carolina Nurses Association and vice president of the ANA. Following the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, Grant volunteered at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center's burn center, and for his service he received a Nurse of the Year Award from then president George W. Bush. Grant has also served as a consultant to the South African government in the preparation of fire safety materials and advised them on burn prevention policies. In 2013, he was awarded the B.T. Fowler Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Fire and Life Safety Education Council.



With his tenure as ANA president ahead, Grant has laid out several top priorities that he hopes to tackle. Given the changing face of health care, the first is to make sure that nurses have the educational opportunities and tools needed to be efficient and attain the best outcomes for their patients. The second is to encourage nurses to be more involved in advocating for their profession and for health care. "Decisions that are made in Washington and in state houses affect not only health care, but also nursing practice," he said. "Nurses need to become more politically savvy, and they don't often see how they are affected until it is too late. If you're not at the table, then you are on the menu."


A third priority is the nursing workforce and the need to engage with young nurses entering the profession. "I want to talk with them and find out their vision of health care and what the ANA can do for them," he said. "They are typically not joiners, but I would like to encourage them to get involved with the ANA and their state nursing associations. I want them to realize that we have a stronger voice together."-Roxanne Nelson, BSN