Ernest Grant, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, started his two-year term as the 36th President of the American Nurses Association (ANA) on January 1 after having been elected in June 2018. He is the first male to serve this position.
One of Grant’s main aims as President of the ANA is to encourage more millennials to join. He intends to talk to young nurses and listen to what they feel they want from the organization. Active involvement in professional organizations from early in his career played a significant role in Grant’s own personal and professional achievements – many of which are firsts in the history of nursing.
He recalls that after having served on various committees in the hospital, a friend told him that to be a real professional, he needed to join his professional organization. He listened and joined the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) and the ANA back in 1985 and through his involvement discovered his aptitude for leadership. “All the leadership skills I gained from serving in nursing and other organizations have brought me to where I am today,” emphasized Grant.
“All the leadership skills I gained from serving in nursing and other organizations have brought me to where I am today”
He first served on various committees of the NCNA, and eventually as vice-president and then as the first male president of this organization. He was elected to the board of the ANA from 2000 to 2004 and again from 2015.
Grant wants to inspire more nurses to get actively involved in advocacy around the issues that affect the profession. “You need to do what you can to get a seat at the table because someone has to be able to set the pace as to where your profession is going to go and what issues need to be addressed,” Grant said. “If you don’t stand up and make your voice heard, someone else will, and they may have no sense of what you do or what you need to be successful.”
Further priorities during Grant’s term as President of the ANA are to make sure that nurses have the educational opportunities and tools they need to provide a high standard of care and to advocate for legislation and policies that hold positive benefits for both nurses and the public.
Grant also advocates for greater diversity concerning more men and persons from minority groups in the nursing profession to ensure quality and culturally competent care for patients. He sees his election victory over seven other candidates for the ANA presidency as an indication that the new gender trend was emerging in nursing.
Grant hailed from the small town Swannanoa in North Carolina. He wanted to become a physician but, as the youngest of seven children of a widowed mother, this was out of the question financially. Nursing was suggested as an alternative, and within a few months of training, he realized that this was the career for him. After qualifying as an LPN, and while all the time being employed full-time, Grant worked his way up the educational ladder to eventually earn his Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of North Carolina.
Grant has worked at the Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health Care since 1982 and is today an internationally recognized expert in burn care as well as fire safety. After volunteering his services to a New York hospital to care for burn victims of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre, he received the 2002 Nurse of the Year award from President George Bush.
While working at the UNC Burn Center Grant also became aware that many burns were preventable. He is currently the Director of the UNC burn prevention program which reaches out to teach fire safety to health professionals and the general public. He has also been involved in changes in legislation related to burn safety through leadership positions he holds with the National Fire Protection Association and the American Burn Association.