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It was rare for a young man from the North Carolina mountains who didn’t grow up in significant wealth to dream of being a doctor.

Ernest Grant – the youngest of seven children in a family of very modest means – was one of them though, until a school counselor convinced him to give nursing a try first to make sure he truly enjoyed health care.

“Probably about six months into the LPN program,” Grant said. “I realized that nursing was my calling and forgot all about med school.”

And the reason was simple.

“I think everybody wants to help their fellow man in some way or another. And, to me, this is my way of being able to do that,” he said.

For 36 years, Grant has flourished as both a nurse, teacher and administrator at UNC Hospitals’ renown Jaycee Burn Clinic in Chapel Hill. But, come January, he’ll have a new job as the first male president of the American Nurses Association, a position his fellow nurses voted him into.

“I deliberately did not want to campaign on, ‘Let’s not make history and nominate or elect the first male president ever in 122 years,” Grant said. “That, to me, is a sideline. I want the best person possible to be there for that position.”

His colleagues felt he was that person — a lesson in persistence and perseverance.

“You will find that, yes, even though it is a female-dominated profession, men stand an equal chance to succeed, just as well as women do. I consider myself a perfect example of that,” he said.

See that example, in this edition of the Buckley Report.