Methods: The Society Board of Directors decided to first explore the need for an honor society of nursing and midwifery in Ireland. A number of tasks were completed to explore this question further, including the administration of a survey to potential honor society members (n=12). The survey was paper-based and administered at a research conference held in a University in the South of Ireland. The survey results provided insight and assisted the Board of Directors in their efforts to establish an honor society of nursing and midwifery in Ireland. The next step was to convene an expert consensus panel (n=13) to establish a development strategy, including identifying the goals and objectives of the society, and aligning these with local health service and academic needs. STTI aims to advance world health and celebrate nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership and service (Hulsey, Nagelsmith and Sharts-Hopko, 2015). Thus, the expert panel reviewed the mission and goals of STTI, liaised with the Chapter Development Officer in STTI Headquarters, and liaised with the Presidents of other Chapters in Europe. The panel also reviewed the Health Reform Agenda in Ireland (Department of Health, 2012).
The majority of survey respondents worked in clinical practice (n=10) and across a number of specialities including infection control, perioperative care, cardiac care, intensive care, intellectual disability, quality improvement and management. Results indicated that all respondents would join an honor society of nursing to avail of education and continuing education opportunities. In terms of benefits to society members, all respondents reported that access to nursing research would be the most helpful benefit of joining an honor society of nursing. Over 90% reported access to educational nursing programs as the most helpful benefit and 75% reported participation in leadership development programs as the most helpful benefit of society membership. Other benefits deemed most helpful included information on evidence based practice (67%) and an opportunity to avail of continuing education credits (58%). The majority of respondents (75%) would be interested in attending events on professional issues and almost 60% would attend evidence-based practice events. The majority of participants (n=7) would be most likely to attend a half day workshop.
Expert Consensus Panel
The panel consisted of 13 nurses and midwives working in academia (n=8) and clinical practice (n=5). All expert panel members working in clinical practice were working in advanced leadership positions: Director of Nursing (n=1), Clinical Research and Service Development (n=1), Practice Development (n=2), and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (n=1).
According to findings of the expert panel, the objectives of the new SIA honor society were to:
• Recognize and celebrate clinical and academic achievements of nurses and midwives and undergraduate students of the profession
• Engage all nurses and midwives in scholarship and translational research
• Establish links between nurses and midwives working in practice and those working in academia
• Give nursing and midwifery in Ireland a voice in the global community of nurses.
The expert panel also found that the establishment of the honor society would contribute to the national Health Reform Agenda (Department of Health, 2012) by addressing research and policy issues as well as human resource issues. For example, it was concluded that the new honor society would contribute to:
• Workforce development, by providing opportunities for professional/career development for nurses and midwives
• Preservation of staff morale, by creating a peer support network for nurses and midwives in Ireland, Europe and Internationally.
• Strategic leadership and governance development, by implementing mentorship programmes for nurses and midwives
• Health research and policy development, by creating links between those most closely involved in the delivery of services and academics with the skills necessary to conduct high quality research. It was concluded that this would ultimately ensure that health research is coordinated, prioritized, and clinically focused as well as creating greater opportunities for nurses and midwives to influence policy development and implementation.
Conclusion: This honor society initiative is unique in that it has the potential to contribute to the nursing profession in Ireland as a whole, as it is not localized to one setting or care context. Furthermore, it represents a collaboration between three academic institutions and a practice development unit in the South/South West of Ireland. It is anticipated that this initiative will result in a large pool of highly educated, self-motivated, empowered and celebrated nurses, equipped to lead the development of future services. The Board of Directors took a novel approach to the development of the society by conducting a potential member survey and convening an expert panel to clarify the goals and objectives of the Society. Results of the potential member survey will enable the Board of Directors to better meet the needs of members and hold events that are of interest to members. Findings of the expert panel consensus have ensured that a detailed strategy is in place to guide the development of the SIA Society including clear goals and objectives. The steps taken in establishing this new honor society of nursing and midwifery should be replicated in other countries where STTI is not already renowned or established.
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