Black History Month 2021 Health Pioneers: An Interview with Dr. Ernest J. Grant

Ernest James Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN Biography Dr. Ernest J. Grant was born in 1958 in Swannanoa, North Carolina. He began his career in nursing as a student at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, where he earned an LPN. As an LPN he first worked on a medical-surgical unit, then accepted a position with the Jaycee Burn Center at North Carolina Memorial Hospital (now at the UNC School of Medicine). His experiences as an outreach clinician at Jaycee inspired him to continue his education and to lobby for better fire and burn safety regulations. Grant earned a BSN from North Carolina Central University in 1985, an MSN from UNC Greensboro in 1993, and a PhD in Nursing from UNC Greensboro in 2015, the first African American man to earn a PhD from that program.

Grant’s contributions to fire and burn care and safety are extensive. Notably, he was named the 2002 Nurse of the Year by President George W. Bush in recognition of his role as a volunteer nurse caring for patients injured during the attacks on the World Trade Center. Many of North Carolina’s regulations related to fire and burn safety, including age restrictions on the purchase of fireworks and the mandated preset temperature on water heaters, are the result of Grant’s efforts.

Grant was named the first male president of the American Nurses Association in 2018. In this role he has advocated for nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and engaged in public education and advocacy related to COVID-19 prevention. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the B.T. Fowler Lifetime Achievement Award from the NC Fire and Life Safety Education Council (2013). Known for his commitment to diversity in the nursing profession and engagement with young nursing professionals, particularly African American men, Grant has established the Ernest J. Grant Endowed Scholarship in Nursing at UNC Greensboro.