Sigma Theta Tau International leadership development program for Nurses and Midwives in North America and Africa

Case Study Submitted by: Cynthia Vlasich, MBA, BSN, RN Sigma, Global Initiatives Director; Elizabeth Madigan, PhD, RN, FAAN
Country: All

Sigma Theta Tau International has developed a leadership development program for nurses and midwives in North America and Africa. The aim of the program is to develop the leadership skills of nurses and midwives who work in a variety of healthcare settings across the world, and prepare them for effective professional team leadership as they strive to improve the quality of evidence-based healthcare.

 Many nurses and midwives are unprepared to lead in various interprofessional settings, a problem that was not being effectively addressed in numerous areas, relating to a reduction in positive health outcomes of mothers and babies.

 A leadership program developed by Sigma Theta Tau International has provided education to more than 350 nurses in North America and Africa. It is provided by highly skilled subject matter experts and mentors for each participant, supported by organisational staff to ensure success.

Participants receive education and support on leadership development knowledge, skills and behaviours for implementing quality improvement projects that contribute to improved care for mothers and children. The attainment of knowledge, skills, and behaviours are measured repeatedly through the course of the program. In addition, the impact of the interprofessional projects that the nurses and midwives undertake are measured for reach and outcomes.

Principal project strategies:

  • The most common project strategy is to improve clinical practice through various methods including development and implementation of new clinical protocols, development and deployment of new tools or other materials, and/or staff/provider training.
  • Several projects have focused primarily on, or included a major focus on, education of parents or caregivers.
  • All projects include a focus on the use of data to drive improvement and shape next steps.

Examples of project outcomes include:

  • Decreased length of stay in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) by 8.76 days through implementation of infant driven feeding as a standard of practice in the NICU.
  • Improved clinical practice: The percentage of providers delivering appropriate education to patients who screened positive for postpartum depression (PPD) risk factors increased from 59% to 80% in the first quarter, and to 93% in the third quarter.
  • Improved provider knowledge: Registered nurses who received training exhibited a 32% increase in knowledge of postpartum depression (PPD) screening from pre-test to post-test.
  • The number of neonates admitted to the neonatal unit with hypothermia decreased from 47% to 18.9% in one year.
  • Improved record completion from 37% to 100%, credited in reducing neonatal deaths from 12 to 5 over a three-year period.
  • Improved patient or community outcomes: The percentage of neonate exclusively fed by breast milk increased from under 20% to 57% in two years.

 Nursing impact:

Mentoring, leading to empowerment, network-development, and new leadership skill acquisition, is highly beneficial for nurses and midwives to increase their leadership abilities and, thus, enhance the impact of their contributions in addressing global healthcare needs.

The program developed by Sigma Theta Tau International has educated more than 350 nurses and midwives, and directly benefited more than 9,500 healthcare professionals at approximately 100 healthcare facilities, impacting more than 156,000 individuals in North America and Africa.

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