Dr. Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the first male President of the American Nurses Association (ANA). ANA is the national voice for the 4 million registered nurses in the United States. Dr. Grant has more than 30 years of nursing experience and is an internationally recognized burn-care and fire-safety expert. He was head of the nationally renowned Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dr. Grant was presented with a Nurse of the Year Award in 2002 by former President George W. Bush for his work treating burn victims from the World Trade Center site of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Dr. Grant has been promoting diversity and equity in the nursing workforce and addressing issues of gender and race to ensure that the nursing workforce is able to meet the demands of the increasingly diverse aging population. “I go to elementary school career days to help address stereotypes of nurses. It needs to start early,” said Dr Grant.
As President of the ANA, Dr. Grant has been at the forefront advocating for the needs of nurses serving on the frontline of COVID-19 all across the country. “While all the regions are at various stages of the battle against COVID-19, the one universal need across the country has been the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Getting nurses the necessary PPE and resources to function safely on the frontlines has been the initial focus of the ANA during the COVID-19 crisis. You can’t send a soldier into battle without armor and expect them to win the war. Nurses need protective equipment to effectively care for patients during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Grant. The ANA has been addressing this issue on many fronts including being visible in the media, writing letters to the Administration and Congress emphasizing the need for resources on the frontline, and providing guidance to the State Nurse Associations and arming them with the tools they need to advocate for their nurses at the state level.
Mental health and well-being of nurses given the unprecedented stress of the COVID-19 crisis is also a major focus for ANA. “Listening and responding to the needs of the nurses we represent is critically important to effective leadership,” says Dr. Grant. To best support nurses the ANA conducted a survey to solicit nurses needs and over 30,000 nurses answered. Based on that input the American Nurses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the ANA created the Coronavirus Response Fund for Nurses to support and protect nurses and their patients and families. This national effort was being kicked off with a $1 million grant from Johnson & Johnson. Additional contributions have come from individuals and companies like Tylenol, Omnicell, UnitedHealth Group and Hill-Rom. Through this initiative, members of the public can demonstrate their appreciation and support for nurses who are on the frontline caring for patients during this pandemic, despite significant risk to their well-being and safety.
The ANA will be promoting nurse leadership and education in recognition for 2020 – The Year of the Nurse. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, ANA plans to step up its activities to recognize nurse leadership and nursing education later this year. 2020 now marks a time of transformation for the nursing profession and the healthcare system,” says Dr. Grant. The crisis has offered an opportunity to demonstrate to the public what nurse leaders can do. “The public has a whole new perspective of nursing leadership. Nurse leadership is being recognized at important decision-making tables, but we need more nurses to be at these tables advocating for nurses and the patients they serve. Relaxing Advanced Practice Nurses (APRN) and telemedicine restrictions has enabled nurse leaders to provide safe and effective care with full authority and meet the needs of even more patients providing critical access to care during this crisis. Decades of research have already indicated this, but now APRNs have proven they can perform during a crisis,” says Dr. Grant.
Call to Action
- Consider joining ANA and your state nurse associations if you’re not already a member.
- Be more politically savvy at the legislative level. Be more aware of how decisions in the house or senate affect nurses ability to practice and care for patients.
- Watch ANA webinars and share ANA information with colleagues.
- To donate to the American Nurses Foundation Coronavirus Response Fund. Text to “Thanks” 20222 to make a $10 donation that will support nurses and advance the nursing profession impactfully.