North Carolina Nurses Association
Russell E. Tranbarger has blazed a trail of excellence throughout his career as an administrator, educator, clinician, historian, legislative advocate, leader, author, editor, and tireless advocate for diversity in nursing.
A role model for men in nursing, perhaps his most significant contribution has been his pioneering spirit to encourage the profession to accept men. His commitment is demonstrated through leadership in the American Assembly for Men in Nursing and as co-editor of the book, “Men in Nursing: History, Opportunities and Challenges.”
Early in his 50-year career, Tranbarger practiced in medical-surgical nursing as an officer in the Army Nurse Corps. After graduate school, he spent 20 years as a chief nurse executive at three hospitals in North Carolina. In 1972 he was appointed the first male registered nurse on the University of North Carolina School of Nursing faculty (adjunct). He led a period of change in practice as vice president for nursing at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro from 1977 to 1989. For example, he implemented a 12-month nurse internship, a post-master’s residency in nursing management, and in collaboration with the nursing staff, implemented primary nursing, a clinical ladder program, and recognition of nursing excellence. Retiring in 2003, Tranbarger is professor emeritus at East Carolina University, and continues his educator role as consultant.
His professional activism has spanned his career. Tranbarger was the first man to serve as president of the North Carolina Nurses Association and as chair of the North Carolina Board of Nursing. As testament to his expertise, he co-chaired the task force to rewrite the North Carolina Nurse Practice Act. Nationally, he contributed to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations and gave testimony on health care to the United States Congress.
His lifelong commitment to the profession has advanced contemporary nursing, and his rich record of accomplishments sets an example for all who follow.