My experiences at the 45th Biennial Sigma Convention

11 Jan, 2024

While reflecting on my recent trip to the 45th Biennial Sigma Convention in Washington, DC, I have a greater appreciation for the mission of Sigma. The Sigma organization was first founded by six Indiana University students with a vision to advance the nursing profession as a science, support scholarship, and develop leaders. The organization’s name is derived from the initials of three Greek words stora, tharos, and tima, that translate into “love, courage, and honor” (Sigma, 2019).  As a member of the Tau Kappa At Large Chapter, our members are committed to advancing the mission of Sigma by promoting world health, celebrating nurse excellence in scholarship, and encouraging service. Our chapter is one of roughly 530 chapters with members in over 90 countries from around the world.

Being selected to share scholarly work is both an honor and a privilege for members. Dr. Bridget Nettleton PhD, RN, CNE and I collaborated on a poster presentation to share our partnership to facilitate and build clinical capacity to help with the nurse and faculty shortages using technology. In the United States, there are current and impending shortages of Registered Nurses (RNs) at both the bedside and within academia. This problem is compounded by an aging RN workforce, as fifty-five percent of RNs are over age 50 plan to retire within the next five to ten years. To complicate matters even further, the turnover rate among newly licensed RNs averages 17.1% in the first year of practice and 33.5 % within the first two years of practice (Ackerson & Stiles, 2018).

Our experiences at the convention were both informative and inspiring as we had the opportunity to meet and connect with hundreds of Sigma nursing scholars, leaders, and educators from all over the world. Each meaningful conversation sparked new knowledge and relationships centered on the conference theme of “connect, collaborate, catalyze.” 

Sigma is equally committed to global health and has a strong voice within the United Nations. In 2012, Sigma worked to develop 17 sustainable development goals toward solving humanitarian issues.  Many of the goals are focused on global challenges such as poverty, hunger, clean water, climate change, equality, good health, and wellbeing. The chapters are uniting to disseminate knowledge to help members utilize resources to achieve what we alone cannot accomplish. The key message from Sigma is to find creative ways to engage with chapter members on volunteerism, service, and commitment to improve global health (Sigma, 2019).

In closing, the Sigma conference was a wonderful experience. Most importantly, Bridget and I learned how our chapter can get more members engaged and involved. To accomplish this, our members will need to get involved and spread simple acts of kindness and caring to improve the communities and the world we live in. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” 

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