Sigma’s Biennial Convention: Mind-blowing

Thóra B. Hafsteinsdóttir | 11/20/2019

Connecting, sharing research, and becoming empowered.

A member of Sigma’s board of directors looks back on Day 2.

Thora HafsteinsdottirFor me, a very down-to-earth Icelander living in the Netherlands, I always find Sigma’s Biennial Convention a kind of mind-blowing event. That is why I think it is so important for us to attract nurses, especially young, early-stage, career nurses from other countries to come and take part in the Sigma experience. It’s amazing to meet other nurses, present, discuss, learn from each other, explore partnerships and collaborations, and just to celebrate nursing as a science and a profession.

It was a privilege for me to preside over the second plenary session, held on Day 2 of the convention. Its main focus was recognizing and awarding nurse leaders for their research work. The first award, the Evidence-Based Practice Grant provided by Sigma and the American Nurses Credentialing Center, went to Audra Hanners, MSN, RN, APRN-CNP, clinical practice instructor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, for her study “Keto Prescribed Implementing Ketogenic Diet Research Evidence into Clinical Practice as a Holistic Approach to Wellness.” The Joan K. Stout Grant was awarded to Mohamad M. Saab, PhD, RN, from the University College Cork, Ireland School of Nursing and Midwifery. The title of his study is “Nursing Students’ Views Regarding the Use of Virtual Reality Simulation to Enhance Men’s Awareness of Testicular Diseases: A Qualitative Exploration.” 

Following the evidence
The keynote speaker was Stijn I. Blot, PhD, RN, this year’s recipient of the Episteme Award, sponsored by Baxter International Foundation. Blot, a research professor at Ghent University in Flanders, Belgium, and an honorary professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, gave a lecture titled “Chlorhexidine Oral Care: From Prevention of Pneumonia to Risk Factor for Mortality.” He presented recent groundbreaking work in which he discovered the link between chlorhexidine oral care, an oral antiseptic used to prevent pneumonia, and a significant increase in mortality risk among hospitalized patients. As a good storyteller reporting on something like a criminal investigation, Blot took us with him through the various clinical trials and meta-analyses.

Over the years, many studies have been conducted and have shown somewhat inconsistent results. In discussing the potential impact of chlorhexidine on pneumonia, Blot explained the odds ratios, hazard ratios, forest plots, and various types of biases to the audience. Like a detective, he went through every detail, explaining complex methodological issues and statistics in a manner that made them sound simple.

Despite inconclusive studies and meta-analyses, as well as limited evidence, chlorhexidine was for years recommended as standard practice in clinical guidelines from international authorities. It seemed that the authors and reviewers of the studies did not want to accept the negative impact that chlorhexidine has on patient outcomes. Blot discussed the difficulties that researchers face when confronted with study outcomes that call for changes in daily clinical practice. Such results are not readily accepted by healthcare professionals. A highly relevant and valuable lecture for nurses, the presentation demonstrated how important it is for nurses to conduct quality outcome studies in clinical practice. Two questions that must always be asked: Are we doing the studies the right way? Are we interpreting the results in an unprejudiced way?

Other Day 2 events
Other sessions I took in on Day 2 included the Tribute Awards event. Presided over by Joanne Clavelle, a Sigma board member, it recognized the work of various exemplary nurse leaders. I also took part in Meet the Candidates sessions. It was exciting, indeed, to hear from these highly talented candidates, nurses from all global regions putting themselves forward to serve on Sigma’s board of directors, as well as on various committees and task forces. That is the strength of this organization.

Later in the day, a meeting for the European Region was held. This region is flourishing! This past biennium, new chapters were established in Ireland, Israel, and Scotland, and chapters are in development in Italy and Croatia. Regional Coordinator Marie-Louise Luiking gave a presentation describing the status of Sigma in the region. Although most chapters are growing well, some are struggling. However, many activities are taking place in the region, and honor society members are collaborating on research, conducting systematic reviews, and publishing. Events that have been organized include virtual meetings and conferences as well as Sigma’s 5th Biennial European Conference, which will be held in Coimbra, Portugal, in May 2020. That evening, approximately 40 people from various European countries enjoyed a wonderful dinner while conversing and sharing ideas.

The second day at the 45th Biennial Convention was very eventful with nurses connecting, building relationships, sharing research, and becoming empowered with the ultimate goal of transforming healthcare to improve the health of patients, families, and communities across the globe. RNL 

Thóra B. Hafsteinsdóttir, PhD, RN, is a senior researcher and course coordinator in the Nursing Science Department, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands. Hafsteinsdóttir is also a professor of nursing, Faculty of Nursing, University of Iceland, and a Sigma board director.

Click here to see all blog entries from convention.

Pictures below are by our official convention photographer, Ralph Alswang. Check the album often to see more photos as they are added!

Sigma’s Biennial Convention: Mind-blowing

Sigma’s Biennial Convention: Mind-blowing

Sigma’s Biennial Convention: Mind-blowing

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