In 2020, USAHS’ Meraki Nursing Honor Society became part of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (Sigma). Meraki is now Alpha Alpha Alpha (AAA), Chapter 575 of Sigma. The USAHS School of Nursing is proud to have our very own chapter within the second-largest nursing organization in the world. Sigma has approximately 135,000 active members across more than 700 U.S. campuses and chapters in over 80 countries and territories.*
Alpha Alpha Alpha, which boasts more than 140 active members, holds monthly meetings and inductions once per term. Membership is open to USAHS graduate nursing students. See the AAA webpage.
COVID Power Hour and Other Events
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, AAA hosts the COVID Power Hour, a discussion group that is mainly attended by USAHS nursing students and alumni, but that’s also open to healthcare professionals from other disciplines. Amy Herrington, DNP, RN, CEN, CNE, co-founded the group in April 2020 “in response to our students expressing fear for their patients, their families, and themselves. Information from the CDC seemed to change hour by hour. Nurses lost their trust in leadership. It was a really scary time.”
The Power Hour is a chance for nurses to share about their challenges working with patients who have COVID and to hear how others across the country are handling similar situations. Now, much of the conversation centers around the vaccines and new treatments and protocols. Members can decompress, debrief, and put things in perspective. “It’s our way to give back to the community and our students when they need it the most,” Dr. Herrington says. “The students have developed a strong peer support group.”
DNP student Heather Josey Thomas, MSN-Ed, RN, CCRN, says, “the COVID Power Hour was instrumental for me in maintaining my sanity” while she worked the front lines of the COVID pandemic. “Just being able to get on there and hear how my peers in other states were doing, what things they were trying, and what successes or failures they were experiencing was immensely helpful. I will forever be grateful for Dr. Herrington and Dr. Garvin for that time.”
AAA also holds monthly meetings in which members discuss their progress in their graduate program or their continuing education courses. This event features a student presentation once per term.
From Meraki to AAA
The Meraki Nursing Honor Society was founded in 2018. Universities must host their own independent nursing honor society for at least one year before that society can become a chapter of Sigma. After a lengthy approval process, Meraki became Alpha Alpha Alpha (as Chapter #575, it happened to be assigned these Greek letters) and was chartered in April 2020.
The chartering ceremony was held virtually, with Safiya George, PhD, FAANP, presiding. Dr. George is the Secretary of Sigma’s Board of Directors. The guest speaker was Michael R. Bleich, PhD, RN, FNAP, President and CEO of NursDynamics, a nursing leadership consultancy.
Sigma Theta Tau International was founded in 1922 by nursing students at Indiana University. It has since grown to become the second-largest nursing organization in the world, with approximately 135,000 active members across more than 700 U.S. campuses, as well as more than 80 countries and territories.* Sigma will celebrate its 100th anniversary at its biennial convention in November 2021, which will be held in-person in Indianapolis, pandemic permitting.
Benefits to Members
Joining AAA (and therefore Sigma) is a good resume builder. AAA members have the opportunity to participate as board officers, event coordinators, and members of committees such as Governance, Finance, Program Planning, and more. And the benefits of membership in AAA include mentorship, peer collaboration, career development, and more.
Sigma offers a wealth of resources to members, including free continuing education programs, member publications, and awards and grants. It hosts events and conferences that can be great opportunities to network with your peers and potential employers. Alongside earning your graduate degree from USAHS, joining AAA can be a gateway to your dream leadership position in nursing!
* Wikipedia, “Sigma Theta Tau”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigma_Theta_Tau
USAHS Nursing Programs
The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, and Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates designed for working nurses. Our nursing degrees are offered online, with optional on-campus immersions* (currently postponed due to COVID-19). Role specialties include Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse Educator,** and Nurse Executive. The MSN has several options to accelerate your time to degree completion. Complete coursework when and where you want to learn—and earn your advanced nursing degree while keeping your work and life in balance.
*The FNP role specialty includes two required hands-on clinical intensives as part of the curriculum.
**The Nurse Educator role specialty is not available for the DNP program.