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Starting A Sigma Chapter

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Who can start a chapter

Chapters must be located in an institution of higher education. At-large chapters can be located at an institution of higher education and a practice setting.

Practice setting(s) may start a brand new at-large chapter in collaboration with an institution of higher education or may join an established chapter.

Institution of Higher Education

Minimum Requirements:

  • Institution of higher education grants a minimum of a baccalaureate degree or equivalent in nursing.
  • School’s nursing programs are accredited by an appropriate accrediting body recognized by the Sigma Governance Committee.
  • Obtained support for an Sigma chapter from the institution of higher education and the educational unit with the nursing program.

Practice Setting

Minimum Requirements:

  • A practice setting where care is provided by a registered nurse. Practice requires the delivery of healthcare services by a registered nurse to individuals and communities.
  • Practice setting must be accredited by an appropriate accrediting agency recognized by the Sigma Governance Committee (such as the Joint Commission or equivalent).
  • Practice setting administration and chief nursing officials must agree to support an Sigma chapter at the practice setting and in collaboration with the institution(s) of higher education.
  • Practice setting must employ nurses with a BSN degree (or equivalent) or higher.

Sigma currently has over 500 chapters around the world. For a complete listing, visit our chapter directory.

Overview of Chapter Development Process

To start a new Sigma chapter, review the information below regarding the six phases of chapter development. Institutions of higher education or practice setting interested in joining an existing chapter of Sigma or  chapters wishing to add an institution of higher education or practice setting to a chapter, review the Chapter Charter Amendment information.

Phase 1: Inquiry

Institutions of higher education that are interested in starting a chapter should contact Sigma staff to inquire about the requirements, process, and timeline.

  • Review minimum requirements to become a chapter.
  • Review the Timeline to Become a Chapter.
  • Submit a consultation request in the online application portal.
  • Submit the Preliminary Information for Institutions of Higher Education or Preliminary Information for Practice Settings for each school or practice setting that will be involved in starting the new chapter.
  • Complete an initial consultation with Sigma staff.
  • Share chapter development information with appropriate colleagues and university officials and obtain their support.
Phase 2: Formation of a Developing Honor Society

After a school of nursing receives information and pre-approval to proceed with the Sigma honor society and chapter development process, the school of nursing should form an independent, local nursing honor society. The honor society agrees to follow Sigma's recommended honor society procedures and policies while forming and operating the honor society with intent to apply for official chapter status.

NOTE: Although Sigma provides support and resources to the developing honor society, the honor society is not affiliated with Sigma until after the chapter charter application has been approved AND the official chartering ceremony has taken place.

The developing honor society will appoint a board of directors for the honor society that will complete the following modules in Phase 2:

  • Module 2.1 Board of Directors Orientation
    • Fill required officer and committee positions.
    • Decide which chapter structure model the group will pursue.
    • Review the board’s purpose, overall responsibilities, and organizational structure.
    • Determine the name of the developing honor society.
    • Learn about and establish honor society bylaws using the Sigma template and guidelines.
    • Start a policy and procedure manual.
  • Module 2.2 Goal Setting and Budgeting for Programming and Member Benefits
    • Identify the developing honor society goals in regards to the membership experience, including programs, inductions, and other member benefits.
    • Discuss basics of budgeting for the developing honor society.
    • Utilize the Fiscal Year 1 Budgeting Workbook to determine goals, create an action plan timeline, estimate the new member count, create event budgets, set member dues, and complete an anticipated budget for fiscal year 1.
  • Module 2.3 Membership Eligibility
    • Learn about the Sigma membership eligibility requirements.
    • Learn about nurse leader criteria to compile a list of possible candidates.
    • Understand student criteria as it correlates with the nursing programs offered and determine how the developing honor society will obtain a list of eligible students.
  • Module 2.4 Preparing Communications and Promoting the Developing Honor Society
    • Develop a master communication plan.
    • Develop a communication plan for the prospective member meeting or recruitment event.
    • Learn about and develop a plan for promoting the developing honor society.
    • Learn about the SPARK: A Developing Honor Society’s Guide to Successful Recruitment.
  • Module 2.5 Member Recruitment and Holding a Prospective Member Meeting
    • Promote the developing honor society to engage eligible candidates.
    • Plan and conduct an information meeting for prospective members.
Phase 3: Operating as a Developing Honor Society

The newly formed nursing honor society should induct members and operate according to honor society bylaws for one year or more. One year is marked from the day of the developing honor society's first induction ceremony. Developing honor societies are asked to operate for more than one year so they become familiar with Sigma bylaws, guidelines, and recommended operations and so they may demonstrate sustainability to become an official chapter.

  • Module 3.1 Inductions
    • Create a timeline for planning the induction ceremony.
    • Hold the first induction ceremony.
  • Module 3.2 Conducting Programs and Creating Member Engagement
    • Learn about member involvement and engagement.
    • Conduct a new member orientation and survey.
    • Host at least two programs annually.
    • Decide if the developing honor society will utilize optional committees.
    • Provide additional non-program member benefits.
    • Encourage member engagement to increase member retention.
    • Continue to hold board meetings and maintain honor society records.
    • Plan for future programs and benefits for the two years following application submission.
  • Module 3.3 Budgeting Part 2
    • Revisit the goals and budgets from past year.
    • Create proposed budgets for the upcoming year based on information gathered from past budget.
    • Review the questions asked on the Chapter Annual Report in anticipation of successful application submission and approval.
    • Determine what chapter dues will be if application approved.
    • Upload budgets for last fiscal year, current fiscal year, and next fiscal year (when chartering ceremony is anticipated to take place).
  • Module 3.4 Annual Business Meeting and Elections
    • Learn about the bylaws requirements for the annual business meeting.
    • Plan and hold an annual business meeting each year.
    • Discuss requirements for the first developing honor society or future chapter election.
    • Begin planning for the first election and officer transitions.
  • Module 3.5 Member Renewals
    • Review the renewal process
    • Complete the renewal cycle annually
    • Continue to reach out to inactive members to ask them to renew
Phase 4: Application Submission and Review
  • Complete the final information for the application:
    • Number of graduates from the past three fiscal years for all baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs at the institution(s) of higher education applying to be a part of the new chapter
    • Signatures of the current developing honor society board of directors
    • Preferred chartering ceremony dates
  • Return to previous sections to update or add information as needed.
  • Chapter Charter Application Review Process:

Phase 5: Chapter Designate
  • Work with chapter development staff at Sigma headquarters to plan for the official chartering ceremony.
Phase 6: New Chapter
  • Transition from the chapter development team to the membership and chapter and regional support team.
  • Meet with the chapter training team for training on the chapter website.
  • Attend required regular meetings with the support team for the first two years of the chapter’s existence.
  • Complete all required chapter Sigma and government reporting (as applicable for the country the chapter is located in).
  • Send chapter delegates to the House of Delegates at biennial convention (held in odd-numbered years).