Dr. Ernestine Small
Ernestine B. Small, M.S.N., R.N.
Nursing is an emerging profession and health care discipline with deep roots and a heritage characterized by the qualities of caring, counseling, and service to mankind. Its genesis is closely identified with the health needs of society and society’s desire for supportive, knowledgeable health care for those individuals, families, or groups of citizens whose health status is altered by illness, disease, or disequilibrium of mind, body, and spirit. As a service required and defined by society, nursing has a historical bond and commitment to deliver humanistic health care that emphasizes prevention of illness, maintenance of a state of maximum wellness, and restoration to an optimal level of functioning. The competencies, knowledge, and skill of the nurse are the tools that are utilized to protect, nourish, and serve the client and his family.
The acceleration of health care technology, health care demands, and an explosion of knowledge have enhanced and increased the importance of nursing to society. As a fluid, dynamic profession with continually evolving roles, the nursing profession is constantly challenged to change. It must do so systemically, with sensitivity and appreciation for the diversity of society and its needs. The profession must, therefore, never falter in its efforts to change the nursing educational system, influence the health care delivery system, and make a positive impact on decision making at all levels within that system. Representation within the profession must be racially, ethnically, religiously, and politically diverse, as it is in society. To be so represented is to give recognition to a major tenet of the profession, which is its declaration to respect the rights and dignity of man.
The significance and responsibilities of nursing, accompanied by expectations of society, compel the nursing profession to be futuristic and seek new horizons, new aspirations, and new growth. Future-oriented discovery and accomplishments through advanced study, continuing education, research, and political activism by involvement via the professional organization are all essential. A responsive profession recognizes how these endeavors contribute to defining its authority and controlling its series. These activities are essential to perpetuate the quality of services society needs and deserves.
A record of achievement and service for the common good must not be lost as this emerging profession seeks its destiny.
Ernestine Brown Small is assistant professor. School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a past president of the North Carolina Nurses Association (1979-81) and the first black to serve in that capacity.
She is a product of the School of Nursing, Tuskegee Institute, in Alabama, from which she received the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree, and of Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., where she received her master of science in nursing degree. She holds a certificate as an adult nurse practitioner from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Post-master’s study in education is continuing.
A model of expertise, knowledge, and leadership, she has carved for herself a place in the history of nursing in North Carolina and in the South in general. Her involvement in nursing prior to and since serving as president of the state association will be a continuing source of pride for the minority community.
Her professional experience includes the usual route taken by most nurses, beginning as staff nurse and rising up the ladder to other positions. She became the first black faculty member of a non-black school of nursing in North Carolina. This established the pace for other institutions to follow. Only a daring, young, energetic nurse would have accepted this challenge. She has remained at that institution, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, from 1971 to the present.
Her appointments and memberships include these: gubernatorial appointment to the North Carolina Comprehensive Health Planning Task Force on Health Manpower; chairman of the Legislative Committee, chairman of the Commission on Health Affairs, and chairman of the Task Force on the Nursing Practice Act, North Carolina Nurses Association; member of the North Carolina Board of Nursing; member of the Program Committee, District Eight, North Carolina Nurses Association; mayoral appointment to the Greensboro Human Relations Committee; board member of the Greensboro YWCA; and member of the Voter Registration Commission.
Among her memberships in professional organizations are these: District Eight, North Carolina Nurses Association; National League for Nursing; American Association of University Professors; North Carolina Conference for Social Services; North Carolina Health Council; and American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
She has received special honors or recognition from Alpha Kappa Mu honor society; Sigma Theta Tau, national honor society of nursing; North Carolina Nurses Association; and Chi Eta Phi sorority.
Her professional activities include serving as consultant, Project Review Committee, Division of Nursing, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.
She was selected by the North Carolina Board of Nursing as an item writer in medical-surgical nursing for the state board of nursing examination.
Biographical reference may be found in Outstanding Educators of America.