Sigma charters Scotland chapter

By Jan Dewing and Kristina Mountain | 10/17/2019

Omega Xi Chapter is born.

Sigma charters Scotland chapter

The Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Honor Society of Nursing in Scotland became Sigma’s Omega Xi Chapter during chartering ceremony held 18 October 2019.

Jan DewingIn early 2015, staff members in the Division of Nursing at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh, Scotland, contacted Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma) to discuss the process of establishing a Sigma chapter. Based on that meeting, a steering group was formed to develop a plan to organize, as a prerequisite to becoming a chapter, a nursing honor society. In April of that year, Brendan McCormack, DPhil, RN, head of the university’s Division of Nursing, presented the resulting proposal to the dean of health sciences for approval. Two months later, an application was submitted to Sigma to establish the Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Honor Society of Nursing. 

Kristina MountainOn Friday, 18 October 2019, Sigma chartered the honor society as Omega Xi Chapter, its 542nd active chapter. Members of its board of directors are as follows: Jan Dewing, PhD, RN, president; McCormack, vice president; Ruth Magowan, MSc, RN, treasurer; Caroline Dickson, DHSSC, RN, secretary; Karen Rennie, PhD candidate, student representative; Lesley McKinlay, MSc, RN, undergrad student counselor; Kristina Mountain, MSc, RN, postgraduate student counselor; Savina Tropea, PhD, RN, doctoral student counselor; Ailsa McMillan, MSc, RN, coordinator, Leadership Succession Committee; and Alison Bacigalupo, chapter management officer.

Countdown to launch
When the Queen Margaret University Honor Society of Nursing was launched in mid-2015, our relationship to Sigma and the process of developing an honor society were still a bit of a mystery to us. With regard to the first, we made a commitment to understanding Sigma and our contribution to it. With regard to the second, the board worked to promote the QMU honor society within our existing networks and partnerships.

Below is a video of the chartering ceremony, which was livestreamed during the event.




McCormack video caption

We soon realized there was interest in establishing a Celtic chapter. Other universities across Scotland also voiced interest, but we decided not to move in that direction at that time. NHS Lothian—part of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service in Scotland—and Queens Nursing Institute, Scotland—a charitable organization that promotes excellence in community nursing to improve the health and well-being of the people of Scotland—also expressed interest. Although conversations with these local partner organizations and wider networks continue, we began to appreciate that we were on a journey to becoming a Scotland-at-large chapter of Sigma and that we needed to develop the leadership required to realize this intention.  

Momentum-building events
The process of working toward becoming a chapter has been interesting and thought-provoking. Initial progress was good, and events that had been planned for 2017 help maintain momentum. Key moments included lectures by Tanya McCance, DPhil, RN, who held a joint appointment between the University of Ulster and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (Northern Ireland) as professor of research and development; Sarah Hope Kagan, Lucy Walker Honorary Term Professor of Gerontological Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; and Stephen Buetow, PhD, University of Auckland, New Zealand, who held an honorary professorship at QMU for three years to help develop a professional doctoral program. Pádraig Ó Tuama, leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization, also gave a lecture and facilitated a workshop relating to the use of storytelling in research and practice. 

In 2017, the president, vice president, and two other board members attended the 3rd Sigma European Biennial Research Conference at Utrecht in the Netherlands and Sigma’s 28th International Nursing Research Congress in Dublin, Ireland. The latter conference provided real insight into what it means to be part of the Sigma community and the connections that can be made internationally across all areas of nursing. 

New energy
As we moved into 2018, there were moments when it felt as if we had come to a standstill, that we were drowning in the application process. Fortunately, the appointment of a chapter management officer, Alison Bacigalupo, to the board of the honor society at that time was a lifesaver that helped us get organized. In June 2018, McCormack and I attended Sigma’s 4th Biennial European Conference in Cambridge, England, where other Sigma members encouraged us to finish the application process. Bolstered by this encouragement, we revisited, as a Division of Nursing, the reasons we had established an honor society and our plan to apply for chapter status. 

After making that connection, we found new energy that helped us regain our motivation and drive toward becoming a Sigma chapter. We believe that this focus, together with our commitment to the philosophies and consistent delivery of person-centered nursing practice, will improve and enhance nursing care in our communities. A key part of our strategy is supporting the learning and professional development of our undergraduate and postgraduate nurses, a commitment that aligns closely with the mission and goals of Sigma.

Final push to chapter status 
At the end of 2018 and moving into 2019, we began working to raise the profile of our honor society and to increase membership. At a nursing conference held at Queen Margaret University in November 2018, Thóra Hafsteinsdóttir, PhD, RN, a member of Sigma’s board of directors, gave a plenary lecture about her work with the organization. This was a great opportunity for undergraduate and postgraduate students, colleagues, and other nurse leaders to learn more about the Sigma community.

In March 2019, an exciting stage was reached in achieving our goal to become a Sigma chapter when I led an event to induct members into the Queen Margaret University Honor Society of Nursing. By that time, our definitive plan to become a chapter had been submitted to Sigma, so I was able to share it with our newly inducted members. Vice President McCormack also shared his history and experience with Sigma in a presentation titled “Going glocal down in Sigma global.”

Moments on our journey from becoming Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Honor Society of Nursing …

Omega Xi montage

… to being chartered as Sigma’s Omega Xi Chapter.


OmegaXi montage #2

In May 2019, we held a Sigma event with colleagues from NHS Lothian titled “Leading Nursing, Nursing Leaders–Care Assurance Standards: Leadership in Deteriorating Patient and End-of-Life Care.” Juliet MacArthur, PhD, RN, chief nurse, research and care assurance standards, presented a project that she and her nursing colleagues have initiated at NHS Lothian. 

Chartering ceremony with Scottish flavor
We have successfully completed the application process to become a chapter and are about to become Omega Xi Chapter. The chartering ceremony, which will have a Scottish flavor, will take place on Friday, 18 October 2019 with Beth Tigges, PhD, RN, PNP, BC, president of Sigma, and Elizabeth Madigan, PhD, RN, FAAN, Sigma CEO, in attendance.  

This is a huge achievement, and we look forward to the next stage in our Sigma journey. Two people who have contributed significantly to this process are Bacigalupo, the chapter development officer we appointed in 2018, and Jennifer Hoffman, manager of chapter development at Sigma. Together, they have worked to guide, support, and encourage the board of the QMU Honor Society during the application process. We couldn’t have done it without you!

As with all Sigma chapters, we will have an action plan to grow our chapter and increase its impact. We will focus most sharply on our work with person-centeredness in nursing and healthcare. In collaboration with The Centre for Person-centred Practice Research, the four areas of activity we will be concentrating on are: experiences of person-centeredness; person-centered interventions; person-centered cultures, and person-centered curricula. RNL

Jan Dewing, PhD, RN, is Sue Pembrey Chair of Nursing, Division of Nursing, at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh; director of The Centre for Person-centred Practice Research; head of the Graduate Research School at QMU; and president of Omega Xi Chapter of Sigma.

Kristina Mountain, MSc, RN, a lecturer in the Nursing Division at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, is postgraduate student counselor of Omega Xi Chapter of Sigma.
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