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American Nursing Association Leader Inspires Advocacy at GSON

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  • 1 September 2022
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American Nursing Association Leader Inspires Advocacy at GSON

ANA Leader Inspires Advocacy at GSON

Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College has been a whirlwind of activity thanks to summer commencement, an alumni reunion, and an inspiring visit by Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Nursing Association (ANA).

As the 36th president of ANA representing 4 million nurses—and the first man to be elected president—Dr. Grant has a distinguished background of more than 30 years in nursing and is an internationally recognized expert in burn care and fire safety.

Dr. Grant recently spent four days in St. Louis with Goldfarb leaders, alumni and students, among others, with a call for advocacy and action for every generation of nurses.


Meeting St. Louis

To experience how impactful non-profits can be in the transformation of North St. Louis City neighborhoods and health, Dr. Grant toured Delmar DivINe. This project, designed to support and stimulate the work of some of the best social service agencies in St. Louis, was launched by Maxine Clark, who is the current board chair for Goldfarb.

The tour gave Dr. Grant a firsthand look at the disparities St. Louis faces and the efforts to address them.


Rallying BJC Nursing Leaders

In addition, Dr. Grant presented to BJC HealthCare nursing leaders with inspiring messages for the future of the nursing profession.

He praised Goldfarb and BJC for being at the forefront of health care and said it is a model for the country.

Recognizing that the pandemic has been a defining moment in nursing, he thanked nurses for their tireless efforts over the past two years. "Nurses have been tested on so many levels," he says. "Yet they confronted the pandemic with grit, resilience and kindness and embraced the spirit of being in this together. Nurses are exhausted but they keep showing up. And that demonstrates that nurses deserve every bit of trust."

He points to the latest Gallup poll that found for the 20th consecutive year that nurses are the most trusted profession.

"Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the profession, to patients and to health care," he says. "You should be proud to call yourself a nurse."

Dr. Grant also called on nurses to be advocates and activists to lift up the profession and to continue to improve, especially in addressing the issues of racism, diversity and health equity in the profession and in our communities.

"I encourage nurse to become active on boards and other organizations in the community," he says. "Because if you're not at the table, then you're on the menu. And when you're at the table, look around and ask who else should be at the table."

He emphasizes nursing voices are vital in driving solutions in the profession, health systems and policy making. "I challenge you to look for ways to improve health and health care in the community. We all contribute to healing. Let's keep the faith and lead by example."

Dr. Grant's final message was one of unity. "As nurses and educators, it's our duty to lift each other up, protect the power of nursing, and to collaborate, cooperate and stand together to speak with one voice. Together we can elevate the nursing profession."


Legends Meeting Legends at the Alumni Reunion

An alumni reunion celebration kicked off Aug. 26 with alumni and student ambassadors gathering at The Cheshire for an evening of reminiscing and fun. The reunion brought together  the classes of 2017, 2012, 1997 and 1972.

The next day following commencement, Dr. Grant joined in a lively Reunion Lunch and Medallion Ceremony with dozens of nursing graduates from Goldfarb School of Nursing and its legacy schools. Student leaders also attended to listen and learn from the "Legends, Trailblazers and Heroes" who came before them.


Graduating Strong Voices and Future Leaders

Dr. Grant culminated his visit as the college's Summer 2022 Commencement keynote speaker. Commencement was held at the glorious Powell Hall on Aug. 27.

For the 166 new Goldfarb graduates, Dr. Grant offered inspirational messages to carry them into the next chapter of their careers.

Before Angela Clark, PhD, RN, MSN, CNE, FAAN, the Maxine Clark and Bob Fox president at Goldfarb, introduced Dr Grant, she issued another challenge that underscored Dr. Grant's message.

"Use the power of your nursing lens to elevate our collective voices—the lens that advocates for and implements change, and drives impact. And remember your sacred obligation to the sick, vulnerable and those who need a voice. There is no profession as noble and humble as nursing."

Dr. Grant began his remarks welcoming nurses to "the greatest profession in the world."

With admiration, he acknowledged the exceptional challenges students faced in their nursing education during the pandemic. "Nursing school is always challenging and rigorous, but in your case, it was taken to new levels because of the pandemic. There has never been a graduating class entering their career with the crisis experience and trial by fire you have endured."

Just as he encouraged BJC nursing leaders to become advocates and activists, he also rallied the new nursing graduates.

"The pandemic lifted the veil on a broad range of challenges. We must redouble our efforts to address challenges. Nurses need to be the ones to drive solutions in our profession, in public policy, and in health systems and beyond. Be part of the effort. Think how you can advance the health of people, families, the community and the world at large."

He offers a hopeful message for a healthier future. "Look at and draw on the values instilled in your nursing education to make a positive impact on public health and seize every opportunity to learn, grow and better the lives of patients, the conditions at your work place and in the profession. It can be done through the power of nursing."

He continues: "Change begins with involvement that leads to action, that then opens the door to leadership and impact. For hope to triumph, we as nurses need to be involved to start to make change. Remember: Who better than me?"

Dr. Grant also reminded new graduates to take care of themselves. "Burnout and mental health issues have impacted so many nurses, especially since the pandemic. We are all called to take care of patients and guide them back to health. But we also need to take care of ourselves and look out for our colleagues."

After degrees were conferred. Michael Ward, PhD, RTR, FASRT, vice dean for student affairs and diversity, concluded the ceremony with parting words: "Go forward and make a difference."

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