Carver alum sworn in as president of NC Nurses Association

Meka Douthit EL

Carver alum sworn in as president of NC Nurses Association
October 27
16:56 2021

As part of their 114th Annual Convention last month, Winston-Salem native Meka Douthit EL was sworn in as president of the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA). Douthit EL, is only the third Black person to serve as president of the NCNA. 

After being sworn in during the convention held on Sept. 23, Douthit EL, who is a graduate of Carver High School, said she was honored to serve as president of the NCNA. She said, “I am blessed and honored and proud to stand before you as the third African American president, following in the footsteps of Sandra Wilder and Dr. Ernest Grant.”

Douthit EL said although she didn’t know it then, Carver and her upbringing helped shape her into the person she is today. She said when she attended Carver, it was a place where students were inspired to be all they could be and her family stressed the importance of helping others and giving back to the community. 

“We had mentors who poured into us and that’s where I learned you can do anything that you want, but it takes hard work. I graduated from Carver in 1991 and at that time we had a lot of movers and shakers and a lot of forward thinkers,” she continued. “And my family … one side is Gilmore Funeral Home and on the other side is Douthit Funeral Home, so I grew up in a family of hard workers who gave back to the community, so it’s always been a part of me. I think all of that was very foundational to who I am.”

After high school, Douthit EL attended NC A&T State University where she originally majored in chemical engineering before transferring to UNC Greensboro (UNCG) and changing her major to nursing. She mentioned that she had a professor who tried to convince her to go to medical school, but nursing gave her more freedom. “In nursing you can do lots of different things. You go to medical school and you’re tied to the one thing you specialize in. I felt I had freedom and opportunity in the nursing profession and could do a lot of things, and that’s what I did and haven’t regretted it. Nursing has been very good to me,” she said. 

Douthit EL received her bachelor’s of science in nursing from UNCG in 1996. She went on to earn her master’s degree from East Carolina University and her doctorate from Old Dominion University. For the past six years, Douthit EL has served as a director at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro. Douthit EL said now that she is in a leadership role, she has the opportunity to take care of the staff and spend time with patients that other staff may not have the time to do. 

“I can spend time holding a hand, I can spend time getting to know the patient a little more and find out about their grandchildren and look through pictures on their phone. I get to fill in that gap,” Douthit EL continued. “I sit in a good seat. It’s tiring, it’s some of hardest work I’ve ever done, and it’s rewarding at the same time, if that makes sense.” 

Last spring, while helping lead her team through the COVID-19 crisis, Douthit EL also lost her mother to cancer. Douthit EL said during that time she learned how resilient she is as a person and as a leader. “It really showed me my level of resilience. It showed me that I was enough,” she said. 

Although she was sworn in last month, Douthit EL has served as president-elect of the NCNA since 2019. According to their website, NCNA is the leading professional organization for North Carolina’s registered nurses that strives to equip nurses at all stages to thrive in an ever-changing healthcare environment.

The NCNA is led by a board of directors elected by the membership and consisting of three executive committee members, four members at large, and the chair of the Commission on Advanced Practice Nursing. The mission of the association is to serve the changing needs of its members, address nursing issues, and advocate for the health and well-being of all people.

When asked what some of her goals are as president of the NCNA, Douthit EL mentioned the need to be engaged with members and finding creative ways to address staffing shortages. By 2025 North Carolina is expected to be ranked in the top five states with the highest need for nurses. 

“We have to act now and see how we can keep people in the profession, attract people to the profession, and help people understand who we are as professionals and what we need in support of our professional practice,” Douthit EL said. “I want to get to know the membership, feel the pulse, and continue to advance the wonderful things we’re doing, and come together to make it even greater. I want NCNA to be a place where their needs are met and a place that can be a wonderful resource.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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