A Milestone in Nursing: First Male Elected ANA President

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When Ernest Grant was seated as president of the American Nurses Association (ANA) on Jan. 1, he became the first man to take the reins of an organization that represents some 4 million nurses nationwide.

Ernest Grant

For Ernest Grant, who was elected ANA president in the summer of 2018, the move is just another in a lifetime of achievements. He was the first African-American man to graduate with a Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Greensboro. Later, he became the first man to serve as vice president of the ANA and president of the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA). He is a nationally acclaimed burn care and fire-prevention expert who used to dress as a costumed character to educate grade-school children about fire safety.

Grant said he has big plans for his two-year tenure, including working to advance the nursing profession and promote high standards in healthcare.

“I want to make sure nurses are prepared and have the educational opportunities and tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and have the best outcomes for their patients in the face of healthcare changes,” he said to American Nurse Today, the official publication of the ANA.

Lifelong Goals in Healthcare

From an early age, Grant, a North Carolina native and the youngest of seven children, dreamed of working in healthcare. His high school guidance counselor suggested he go to nursing school.

“I realized that nursing is my calling, and it has been ever since. That’s essentially how I got into nursing, and I have never regretted choosing nursing as my profession,” Grant said to Health Leaders.

Striving for Greatness, Reaching Success

In the early 1980s, Grant started as a staff nurse at UNC Medical Center and was recognized for his leadership skills. He served on numerous boards and committees. He also joined local professional organizations, including the North Carolina Nurses Association, where he also served in leadership positions.

As his career developed, Grant was drawn to helping burn victims. He became a fire safety and burn prevention expert at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center. Grant often donned a Sparky the Fire Dog costume to teach youngsters about safe fire practices.

Along the way, Grant earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Ph.D. He also earned accolades and accomplishments, including:

  • Serving as chairman of the National Fire Protection Association board
  • Serving on the American Burn Association board in various positions
  • Being recognized as 2002 Nurse of the Year by President George W. Bush
  • Serving as NCNA president
  • Receiving the Honorary Nursing Practice Award from ANA
  • Volunteering in New York City hospital burn units after the Sept. 11 attacks
  • Conducting the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fire prevention and burn care seminars in South Africa

Working as ANA President

In his role as ANA president, Grant says he has a lot on his agenda. In addition to advancing the nursing profession, he plans to advocate for legislation and policies to improve public access to quality healthcare. He will also encourage diversity in nursing.

“It’s important that the nursing workforce reflects the diversity of our patient populations to increase our ability to provide the culturally competent, quality care patients need, especially when they are most vulnerable. And welcoming people from diverse backgrounds into our profession with their unique perspectives and experiences will only strengthen it,” he said to American Nurse Today.

Grant said he plans on continuing to embrace nursing, encouraging nurses to practice to the full extent of their education and drive the profession forward. As the ANA president, he supports careers with a BSN degree. He is a big proponent for advanced nursing education and plans to encourage men and minorities to seek careers in nursing.

“I always tell students I never regretted making that choice to go into nursing,” he told Health Leaders. “It’s been one of the best choices that I’ve made in my life. I mean that truly from the heart because you do see that you can make a change in someone’s life every day.”

Preparing to Advance Your Career with a Duquesne University MSN online degree

Duquesne University’s MSN degree program prepares RNs for careers in leadership and to set new standards of care. The university’s online MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate degree programs allow nurses to continue their careers and personal lives while earning an advanced education. The school offers programs in Family (Individual Across a Life Span) Nurse Practitioner, Forensic Nursing and Nursing Education and Faculty Role.

Duquesne University provides one-on-one faculty support to encourage success at every step. Graduates are eligible to sit for certification boards, including the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCP) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Family Nurse Practitioner certification examinations.


UNCGNow, “Alumnus Dr. Ernest J. Grant Named American Nurses Association President: “
Health Leaders, “A Q&A with the First Man Elected as American Nurses Association President”
 Aetna, “Ernest J. Grant”
ANA, “ANA President” 
 UNC, “Burn Center Employee Travels to South Africa to Share Expertise”