Nursing’s bright future beckons
In this, my last column as American Nurses Association (ANA) president, my thoughts, though reflecting about the past, rest firmly on the future of the profession and association, about which I care so deeply. In my view, the outlook for both is bright and promising.
My optimism stems first from the formidable and ingenious ways nurses have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and all that has flowed from it. Despite tremendous stresses from dealing with a novel pathogen and facing challenge upon challenge, nurses nationwide have served throughout with perseverance and a commitment to excellence. They also have proven remarkably adept—innovating their clinical practices and tackling complex problems with creativity and intention. I’m pleased as well to hear nurses’ voices louder than ever, and in new arenas, speaking forcefully and eloquently about staffing and other workplace issues; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and more. Nurses were doing this already, but the pandemic has elevated our ideas and influence.
Nursing, named the most trusted profession for 20 years running, also keeps drawing newcomers, notably more people of color and men, with applicants exceeding admission capacities at schools of nursing. The ANA Enterprise keeps adapting as well, raising its voice and using its insights and influence on behalf of all RNs, our patients, and the nation’s health and well-being.
All these efforts, by nurses, the nursing profession, and ANA, reflect a model of reclaiming, restoring, and transforming organizations proposed by theologian Brian McLaren and presented recently by Reverend Elder Cecilia Eggleston, moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches.
ANA is reclaiming its history by acknowledging past actions that have negatively impacted nurses of color and perpetuated systemic racism. Our own reckoning journey and efforts, along with co-lead and member organizations in the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing, are working toward healing and restoring the profession, which promises to transform the country’s health.
In the quest for better universal health outcomes, nurses are looking at pre-pandemic conditions that need to be restored or reformed. They’re doing so with a whole-of-community view that might involve updating nursing practices or working in new ways within and outside of traditional healthcare teams.
In this time of transition, we’re also passing the baton to a new generation. The pandemic has been especially hard on the newest nurses—tomorrow’s leaders. In the words of theologian Howard Thurman, we must embrace and support them to find the sound of genuine in themselves. They, like all nurses, have been called to a magnificent profession. Their ideas and actions will build on the legacy of current and past leaders, transforming nursing. But they need our encouragement and championing. ANA and its constituent and state nurses associations offer many opportunities to connect, learn, and grow—mentorships, online communities, advocacy and practice initiatives, timely educational content, and much more (nursingworld.org/membership/member-benefits/).
Serving as ANA President has been the honor of my life. The past 4 years have afforded me so many invaluable and memorable opportunities. I offer my heartfelt thanks to each and every ANA member. I especially recognize and thank the knowledgeable, talented, and dedicated ANA Enterprise staff, who work so hard to support me, all nurses, and the nursing profession.
As my presidency ends, I look forward to seeing you in new and some old venues as my work to develop the next generation of leaders continues. As I enter this new phase, the question I have asked myself daily as president of ANA and throughout my career will remain the same: Did you make a difference today?
– Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, President, American Nurses Association
American Nurse Journal. 2022; 17(12). Doi: 10.51256/ANJ122215