Those who’ve met Omega Chapter President and Alpha Chapter member Christina Kiger have no doubt about her caring, generous nature and her passion for excellence in all aspects of her life. It was no surprise when Christina chose nursing, focusing on pediatrics, as her career choice. Christina earned her BSN in 2000 from the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana, and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to work at Riley Hospital for Children. Simultaneously, Christina began taking graduate level courses through Indiana University and discovered her passion to be a nurse leader, researcher, and educator.
She earned her MSN in nursing education from Indiana University in 2009 and decided to leave clinical practice to pursue a position with Marian University as an associate professor. There, she could further her research on nurse preceptorships and their role in the scientific advancement of nursing education, a research interest that was piqued through her work on her master’s thesis during graduate school. Prior to her exit to pursue her PhD in nursing education, Christina developed and implemented the clinical immersion preceptorship experience in Marian University’s new curriculum. “My focus on preceptorship has been strong for many years,” Christina says. “I have had preceptorship experiences, both as an undergraduate student and as a preceptor, so I realize the value these experiences can add to a nurse’s skillset. However, student experiences can vary based on the preceptor they’re assigned, so from a research perspective, it makes sense to dig deeper into the impact these experiences can have on new nurses.”
In 2017, she again was admitted to Indiana University to pursue her PhD in nursing education and was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars Program Fellowship for her work on Nurse Residency Program preceptorships, specifically, the interpersonal attributes and communication styles of preceptors and their impact on self-efficacy and turnover in newly licensed nurses. Christina will graduate in 2020 and plans to stay in academia so she can continue advancing the profession of nursing through scholarship, while passing along her knowledge to the next generation of nurses.
Christina’s dedication to nursing advancement and scholarship makes it appropriate that her initial opportunity to join Sigma came during her time as an associate professor at Marian University; she was able to join Sigma’s ranks as a nurse leader and faculty member. “Initially, my desire to join Sigma was based on the want to be a part of an honor society of nursing,” Christina says. “I wasn’t sure what else Sigma offered because our chapter wasn’t visible at the time.” Soon, Christina was asked to serve on the Omega Chapter’s board and stepped into the role of vice president, earning her a spot as Omega’s chapter delegate for the 43rd Biennial Convention in Las Vegas in 2015, where Christina was exposed to all the opportunities available, both for her personally and her chapter. “Attending biennial convention as a delegate opened my eyes to not only all that I could personally gain from being an active Sigma member, but I realized that our chapter needed to be more active in Sigma, too. There are so many opportunities for chapter members and I knew a more active chapter would open many more doors for them.”
After her experience at the biennial convention, Christina decided to step into her current role as Omega’s chapter president, utilizing her passion and leadership skills to transform the Omega Chapter. Under her leadership for the past two years, Omega Chapter hosts member events, regular member meetings, and has reinstituted a fully functioning board that meets regularly. But Christina’s far from done, and has a couple of goals in mind, both for the long and short term. “We’ve already accomplished a lot over the past two years, but I’d like to increase member participation at our events and, ultimately, win a Chapter Key Award.”
It’s the member participation that’s the key for Christina. She credits being active in her current chapter for enhancing her leadership skills, increasing her visibility as a nurse scientist and researcher, connecting her with many different colleagues around the globe, and inspiring her to go back to get her PhD. Christina says, “Today's healthcare complexities require us to continue moving nursing education forward and there is a lot that we need to do to allow nursing education to evolve to that level. Sigma allows so many opportunities to grow personally as a leader, scholar, or clinician. Within all levels of participation, you are truly able to make an impact on nursing and health care all over the world.”