This three day conference, from 16th-18th June, attracting around 180 delegates from 27 countries, focused on leadership, learning and research in nursing and midwifery. As a member of the conference planning committee, it was good to see how the two years of planning paid off with a busy programme that included a good mix of plenary and parallel sessions. Professor Hester Klopper, the new President of Sigma, opened the conference with her vision of nursing and goals for the organisation. She emphasised the importance of nursing leadership and representation on global policy committees, asking how we can best promote nursing as an integral part of global health, rather than promoting it as something that needs to be treated differently in some way. Dr Sawsan Majali’s plenary talk on Leadership in a global perspective drew on her role as secretary general of the Higher Population Council. Sawsan outlined the positive and negative aspects of globalisation and talked about the importance of leaders being able to demonstrate a global mindset and global skillset, underpinned by knowledge and experience gained ‘on the ground’. She echoed Prof Klopper’s concerns about the absence of nurses at the decision-making tables at international levels and presented the characteristics that global nurse leaders should demonstrate – these included being prepared to speak out and to take weighted risks.
Other plenary and keynote sessions I found particularly interesting included Professor Margret Lepp’s talk on drama in education (as a means of promoting emotional literacy to complement intellectual understanding), Professor Lesley Moore’s presentation on work based learning, and Professor Wendy Chaboyer’s keynote on Building and leading a high performing Research Centre.
It was also great to meet international members of Sigma and to experience the Swedish culture of friendliness and hospitality, efficient and cheap public transport and healthy food!