From the CEO: Global Nursing Excellence

By Elizabeth A. Madigan | 04/06/2018

Liz Madigan shares her thoughts on the three words—Global Nursing Excellence—that accompany Sigma’s new logo, reflecting the organization’s essence and vision.

Elizabeth MadiganIn the unveiling of our new brand, the tagline “Global Nursing Excellence” was chosen as a short descriptor of who we are. Taglines are even shorter than elevator speeches and are designed to describe an organization in three to five words. When I became the chief executive officer of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma), Global Nursing Excellence had already been decided upon, so I take no credit. The more I rolled it around in my head, the more I liked it, and the more I think it describes who we are.

We are indeed “Global”—we have members in more than 90 countries. But we have chapters in a bit more than 30 countries, which means we have great opportunity for growth. Sigma has very bright and committed board and staff members, so there is no low-hanging fruit. If it were easy, these two groups would have figured it out before I arrived. When I am asked why it can take so long to start a chapter, my answer is, “Because we want the chapter to succeed.” 

By the time a proposed chapter gets to the chartering phase, much of the work has been done, and from that point onward, only small, incremental improvements should be needed to continue. While I would like the bragging privileges that accompany a significant increase in the number of international chapters in a short time, this would not be wise as it could compromise the sustainability of those chapters. I want strong chapters that are the backbone of Sigma. 

“Nursing” should be obvious, but is it? The world of healthcare is increasingly interprofessional or interdisciplinary. Our challenge is maintaining our legacy of nursing without becoming an organization that focuses only on nursing. I am a nurse through and through, as many of you are. I recognize and remember the interprofessional challenges we have faced and still face. At the same time, I’m well aware that evidence shows patient outcomes are better with an interprofessional team that communicates and collaborates effectively. If we, as leaders of one of those disciplines—nursing—cannot make this happen, how can we expect those we are educating and mentoring to do better? And by “leaders,” I mean every member because you would not be in this organization if you were not a leader. 

“Excellence” is perhaps the trickiest word to define as it means different things to different people. In fact, my definition varies according to what part of Sigma I am talking about. I have high expectations of our programming and how it’s presented, whether at the biennial convention or via the latest online continuing nursing education program. As CEO, the good news for me is that staff members also have high expectations and are not afraid to speak up when something is not up to our standards. 

My definition of excellence is a bit different when it comes to Sigma’s support of research grants. In that context, the focus of the work needs to reflect our profession’s disciplinary values and standards. 

No matter the context, excellence is not achieved without the periodic misstep or failure. Every organization faces failures. The smart ones do a deep dive to find out what did not work and why. My aim is that Sigma be both excellent and smart. 

In summary, Global Nursing Excellence means we, as Sigma nursing leaders, are the global organization of choice for nursing. Conveniently—and by design—this is our vision! RNL

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Elizabeth “Liz” Madigan, PhD, RN, FAAN

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