By Austin Nation, PhD, RN

My Story

My name is Austin Nation, PhD, RN and I have recently graduated from the University of California, San Francisco. My research interest is with understanding substance use and HIV among young Black men who have sex with men (MSM), funded by Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in partnership with the American Nurses Association (ANA) – Minority Fellowship Program.

I have been a registered nurse since 1982 with a background as a Nursing Administrative Supervisor and later an HIV Prevention Educator.  In 2006, I decided that I wanted to return to school to obtain an advanced degree so that I could be a part of teaching the next generation of nurses. I obtained both my BSN and MSN - Leadership from California State University (CSU), Fullerton. During that time, I started a Nursing Students Association on our campus and as chapter president became connected with the California Nursing Students Association (CNSA). To my surprise at the time, this was being mentored and guided by Patricia McFarland, ACNL CEO, and other members of the organization. I felt extremely supported and was immediately impressed by the nursing leaders that I had the privilege of meeting. These nurses were the “heavy hitters” of the nursing profession, people I had read about in my nursing journals and who I had seen present at conferences during my early career.  Of course, they really didn’t know any of the students that well, but they knew we were all student leaders.  The encouragement I received, particularly as an adult re-entry student was absolutely amazing! Since that time, Patricia has been one of my biggest cheerleaders, always offering an encouraging word.

Later, my MSN graduate advisor and mentor, Dr. Maryanne Garon suggested that I become a member of ACNL and attend the Annual Conference.  I had also submitted a scholarship application to help offset the cost of my education. I ended up getting the scholarship and when I went to my first ACNL conference to accept my award, I not only saw folks who were our ACNL CNSA leaders, but also some of my bosses from my early career. I was so excited! I am so grateful to Dr. Garon for suggesting that I get involved with this organization. It has really changed my life. She has also continued to be a friend, colleague, and an invaluable resource to me. 

I am currently an adjunct professor at both San Francisco State University and Samuel Merritt University.  Through the years, I have continued my membership in ACNL, attending as many Annual Conferences as my doctoral schedule would allow.  Not only have I been able to share my research at these events, but what I love most is networking with so many wonderful colleagues and mentors.  Over the years, I have seen every single significant nursing leader who has ever been a part of my career, from my first boss as a new grad, to the VP/CNOs who have promoted and taught me about leadership, to the incredible faculty who have guided me during my student journey the last 10 years.  They continue to give me so much love and are always there to offer me their pearls of wisdom.  I simply couldn’t imagine not being a part of ACNL and learning so much more about leadership and the state of our profession. To me, this organization is about fostering lifelong relationships and growing as a professional registered nurse. With the information that I learn, I am able to take this back and share it with my students.

As current secretary of the Greater San Francisco Chapter of ACNL, I have the chance to be of service to our local members and give back to the organization.  I am also a part of the state-wide Membership Experience Committee. In both of these groups I have the chance to represent the voice of the minority nursing leaders.  As an African-American male, I am keenly aware of the lack of diversity in our profession.  I am hoping to help bring more, young leaders, men, and nurses of color into the organization.  I believe that they will be the future of nursing and we need to prepare them to become tomorrow’s ACNL leaders. I invite you to join and be a part of the change!




My ACNL Story: 

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ACNL offers resources to help you recruit new members into our organization.
ACNL's Ambassador Tool Kit