I benefited so much from networking.
As she travels back to Australia, the author reflects on the days she spent at Sigma’s 45th Biennial Convention in Washington, D.C., and shares highlights.
Sigma’s 45th Biennial Convention in Washington, D.C., marked my fourth time attending a Sigma event, my second time at a biennial convention, and my first time as a delegate. It was a precious opportunity to observe and immerse myself among the finest, most dedicated, and visionary nurses from all over the world. While traveling home on a 28-hour journey, I reflected on those days and share highlights below.
The convention started with an opening plenary and flag processional. The 32 flags representing countries where Sigma has chartered chapters filled me with a profound sense of pride, respect, and connectedness to the nursing profession. Gratefully bearing the flag of Australia, I represented Psi Zeta at-Large Chapter from the Oceania region. When I shared a photo of the ceremony with those at home, my family noted that I stood between flags of two countries not always recognized on major political platforms. For that, I am even prouder of my professional society.
During the regional coordinator forum, delegates from all chapters in Australia were brought together—a rare occurrence—and it provided occasion for the communication we so much need as a relatively young Sigma region. We discussed opportunities, challenges, and strategies, and we came to understand each other a little more and found shared goals to aim for in the next biennium.
Twitter posts—specifically, with hashtags #SigmaConv19 and #NursesWhoTweet—also united us. Who would have thought we could share, one tweet at a time, more than 16 million impressions by the end of the convention?
Like most attendees, I enjoyed and benefited so much from networking. I met many scholars in person for the first time, caught up again with long-time mentors, discussed collaborative work with contacts I met at previous Sigma events, and sought career advice from established nursing scholars.
Following a morning of concurrent sessions, almost 1,000 House of Delegate members showed utmost attention in selecting future leaders of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma). The voting was amazingly well-organized. Professionalism was shown in the seating chart, preparation of documents that were accurate for every chapter, the electronic voting system, and timing of discussions. The supporting staff members were always friendly and helpful.
Questions and related dialog demonstrated that members do care about how expenditures are used to serve members, whether candidate nominations are globally representative, how the board of directors represents vision for the profession, and whether proposed changes consider nursing’s multiple dimensions, both inside and outside North America. I sensed the united voice of the delegates.
On this last day of the convention, voting results made available to the House of Delegates reminded me to rethink my role and engagement as a member in my chapter and region—at present and looking forward.
While the legacy of Past President Beth Baldwin Tigges’ call to action—Connect, Collaborate, and Catalyze—continues, the call to action from our new president, Richard Ricciardi, quickly resonates. It rings true when he says that, as nurse clinicians and academics, we are so unskilled in work-life balance and that culture needs to change. I—and I believe many delegates around me in that hall—readily accepted his challenge to infuse joy in daily life and practice and to turn it into energy that empowers each other and transforms healthcare. I look forward to seeing how Sigma will support its members at organizational, national, and international levels to #InfuseJoy, especially in environments with limited resources.
My five-day convention attendance concluded in deep reflection on what I had learned. I thank Sigma and, most especially, a great team of talented, committed, and friendly staff members who empowered me and many others by providing rich and delightful convention experiences. RNL
Van Nguyen, PhD, MN, BN, is an early career researcher and postdoctoral fellow at Monash Centre for Scholarship in Health Education, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
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