A Call to Nursing Leadership and Service

Earlier this week I attended the 42nd Biennial Convention of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) in Indianapolis, USA. Once I had successfully dodged the tornadoes and arrived in Indiana, I settled down to absorb the positive energy that emanates from a large gathering of dedicated nurse leaders, keen to shape the future of nursing around the globe. Nursing conventions are exciting places to be and there are incredible opportunities for building networks and opening eyes to new ideas. I am always looking for that one new ‘take home message’  to share with my students and to refresh my thinking about nursing. More about that later…

For those not familiar with STTI, the honor society was founded 90 years ago (in 1922) by six visionary nursing students at the Indiana University, who set the agenda for improving healthcare through leadership, scholarship and excellence in nursing practice.1 Now there are over 130,000 members around the globe and this year Dr. Hester Klopper, from South Africa, made nursing history when she became the first president of STTI from a country outside of North America.2

I am a relative newcomer to STTI, joining my local chapter Delta Mu in 2010. Soon after joining I was persuaded to join the board. Then I was quickly swept up into the position of Chair of Research, responsible for leading the research scholarship program within the chapter. Each year we allocate small seeding funds to faculty, clinicians and students, to undertake new and creative projects that show promise in building nursing knowledge and positive practice change – building excellence in scholarship and nursing practice. Even though the seeding grants are small, each year I am amazed by the creativity of recipients in using funds to explore new ways of doing things in their local hospitals and health services. As they say, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” –  seed grants can indeed make a difference.

Serving in community organisations and taking on leadership positions outside the workplace takes up time. We are all pulled in multiple directions when deciding how to best use our limited resources and meet the needs of our own families. It is so much easier to step back to let others do the work and hope someone else will put their hand up and take the lead. But as I listened to Dr. Klopper’s presidential address, looking for new inspiration, I was immediately struck by her call for members to “serve locally, transform regionally, and lead globally”.  Hester Klopper’s call to action was my take home message for the convention. I was reminded that service to local professional groups is indeed important and worthy of our time, energy and intellect. I encourage readers to seek out ways to serve within their local nursing groups, to think big and make a difference beyond their work day.

All nurses can be leaders as we join together to make a difference to patients locally, regionally and around the globe. We are only truly limited by ourselves.

Allison Shorten RN RM PhD

Yale University School of Nursing

References:

1.Sigma Theta Tau International, STTI Founders http://www.nursingsociety.org/aboutus/mission/Pages/founders1.aspx <accessed 23-11-13>

2. Sigma Theta Tau International, STTI Organisational Fact Sheet http://www.nursingsociety.org/aboutus/mission/Pages/factsheet.aspx<accessed 23-11-13>

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