STTI chapter amends charter to include practice setting

By Amy Wall | 10/03/2017

First-of-its-kind model made possible by 2015 change in bylaws.

Nurse leaders from Maine Medical Center

The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) is excited to announce a first-of-its-kind chapter charter amendment. Kappa Zeta-at-Large Chapter, located in Portland, Maine, USA, was the first STTI chapter to amend its charter by adding a practice setting—Maine Medical Center, also located in Portland. The chapter is part of North America Region 15. 

Before 2015, only institutions of higher education could be a chartered part of an STTI chapter. That changed when the House of Delegates at the 2015 Biennial Convention approved an amendment to the international bylaws to allow practice settings to join with institutions of higher education in an at-large chapter structure model. Practice settings can also collaborate with institutions of higher education to start a new at-large chapter.

Debra Kramlich and Laurie Carbo-PorterThis new model encourages cross-collaboration and partnerships among administrators, clinicians, educators, and researchers. By engaging members in the workplace, the model optimizes member recruitment, engagement, and retention across the span of a nurse’s career. 

After this chapter structure model was approved, Kappa Zeta-at-Large Chapter leaders quickly identified significant benefits of the new model for their chapter. It was one of the first chapters to ask STTI staff about the new model after the 2015 convention. 

Leaders from Kappa Zeta-at-Large and Maine Medical Center (MMC) are excited about the partnership and anticipate that it will support chapter sustainability: 

As a Magnet©-designated facility, MMC is a leader in EBP/research, and such a partnership will provide opportunities for members to conduct projects [and] disseminate knowledge. Attendance at chapter programs is often low, and we are challenged with the ability to provide CEUs; this practice partnership may help to address both challenges by providing free space in a central location as well as CEUs. Nurse leaders at MMC can serve as mentors for our new grads. Faculty from the three colleges can offer continuing education programs at the practice site. Such a model can increase professional satisfaction for academic and practice leaders, contributing to career growth.

A long-standing relationship exists among nursing programs at the three institutions of higher education that Kappa Zeta-at-Large Chapter comprises (University of Southern Maine, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, and University of New England) and Maine Medical Center, the largest tertiary care facility in Maine. Nursing students from BSN programs at all three institutions complete clinical rotations at one of the three Maine Medical Center campuses. MMC also employs numerous graduates from the three nursing programs, the only baccalaureate nursing programs in the Portland area. 

In addition to the relationships between the universities and the practice setting, Kappa Zeta-at-Large Chapter has collaborated with Maine Medical Center in offering research and presentation opportunities. For several years, the chapter has offered research grants to its members. The Center for Nursing Research and Quality Outcomes (CNRQO) and the Department of Nursing at Maine Medical Center provide funds for those nurses to attend STTI conferences—including the biennial convention, international Nursing research congress, and North America Region 15 Regional Chapter Celebration—to disseminate nurse-led research. 

In May 2016, Kappa Zeta-at-Large President-elect (now President) Samantha Menengas, BSN, RN, and Leadership Succession Committee Chair Debra (Deb) Kramlich, PhD, RN, CCRN-K, CNE, met with Kristiina Hyrkäs, PhD, RN, director of the Center for Nursing Research and Quality Outcomes at Maine Medical Center, to proceed with the application for chapter charter amendment. They outlined a timeline, identified potential nurses to serve as MCC counselor, and discussed logistical considerations. 

In discussing the amendment, they recognized that chapter goals aligned well with strategic priorities of Maine Medical Center in four key areas: 

  • Knowledge—create opportunities for knowledge development and dissemination in the areas of nursing clinical practice, leadership, and evidence-based practice research.
  • Leadership—develop leadership skills of nurses across the spectrum through mentorship and formal programs.
  • Community—foster a spirit of community through networking and partnerships with groups and individuals who share missions and values.
  • Sustainability—develop and preserve human and fiscal assets through recruitment and retention efforts. 

Marge Wiggins, DNP, MBA, RN, FAAN, NEA-BC, vice president and chief nursing officer of Maine Medical Center, supported the amendment, stating, “The addition of Maine Medical Center as a practice site will enable our nurses and nurse leaders to benefit more fully from the national and international Sigma Theta Tau International activities.” Richard W. Peterson, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of MMC, also supported the partnership: “With research an important component of our tri-mission, we understand the value that Kappa Zeta-at-Large Chapter brings to our organization.” 

First-of-its-kind model made possible by 2015 change in bylaws.In February 2017, Kappa Zeta-at-Large submitted its chapter charter amendment application to add Maine Medical Center to the chapter. Shellye Vardaman, PhD, RN-BC, CNE, a member of the STTI Governance Committee and co-chair of the Chapter Charter Review Task Force, believes this is a perfect scenario for this type of at-large chapter: “The context in which this proposal is made is the ideal—an existing (well-established) at-large chapter in an area that shares a health system with a long history of collaboration. I am thrilled with the application and can’t wait to hear about their successes.”

 At its June 2017 meeting, the STTI board of directors voted unanimously to approve the chapter charter amendment. “This partnership allows for greater collaboration between the academic and practice setting in advancing STTI’s global health mission and improving the health of populations we serve,” says President Cathy Catrambone. “In addition, formally incorporating the practice setting into our chapter structure further facilitates and informs the chapter in responding to the needs of its constituent members.” 

The charter amendment ceremony took place 16 September 2017 on Maine Medical Center’s Bramhall Campus, where Kappa Zeta-at-Large Chapter welcomed 19 nurse leaders as its newest members. A separate induction will be held for students. Also, four STTI members transferred their membership to the chapter, and two members added the chapter to their membership.

The chapter plans to become more involved in the MMC Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) and Clinical Scholar Programs (CSP), which are hosted throughout the year, as well as the quarterly MMC Nursing Grand Rounds. The chapter will also co-host a National Healthcare Decisions Day program in collaboration with the Southern Maine Chapter of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Other future chapter activities include participation in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and The 5K for the Health of It!, a fun run and walk to benefit the Kappa Zeta-at-Large scholarship and grant fund.

The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International is proud to welcome Maine Medical Center to Kappa Zeta-at-Large Chapter!

For more information about using this chapter structure model, starting a new at-large chapter, or amending an established chapter, please contact

Amy Wall is a chapter development specialist at the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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