Iota Omega Chapter History

Department of Nursing History


To foster, develop and connect nurse scholars and leaders worldwide to improve health care worldwide. The society promotes nursing excellence through its initiatives in research, leadership, an electronic library, programming and publications and develop and distribute nursing knowledge for use in practice.


Modern nursing was barely 20 years old in 1922 when six nurses founded Sigma Theta Tau at the Indiana University Training School for Nurses, now the Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis, Indiana. The founders chose the name from the Greek words Storge, Tharos, and Tima me aning "love," "courage" and "honor." As women ahead of their time, the founders' vision for the society helped bring recognition to nursing as a science.

The society became incorporated in 1985 as Sigma Theta Tau International, Inc., to support and connect the global community of nursing scholars who enhance health care worldwide. The society is a not-for-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) status.


More than quarter of a million nurse scholars have been inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International. With 120,000 active members, it is the second largest and one of the most prestigious nursing organizations in the world. The society's members are active in more than 78 countries and territories, and the 383 chapter honor societies are located on more than 450 college and university campuses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia.

Membership is by invitation to baccalaureate and graduate nursing students who demonstrate excellence in scholarship, and to community leaders who demonstrate exceptional achievement in nursing. Sixty percent of active members hold master's and/or doctoral degrees. Forty-four percent are clinicians, twenty-six percent are administrators or supervisors and twenty percent are educators.

Education and Research Initiatives

In 1936, Sigma Theta Tau International became the first organization in the United States to fund nursing research. The society, together with its chapters and grant partners (corporations, associations and foundations) contributes more than $650,000 dollars each year to nursing research through grants, scholarships and monetary awards. In addition, more than 350 research oriented educational programs are sponsored or co-sponsored annually by Sigma Theta Tau International. The society has also sponsored or co-sponsored International Research Congresses in Spain, Israel, Scotland, Taiwan, Washington, DC, Australia, Vancouver, Canada and The Netherlands.

Center Nursing Press

The society's publishing arm produces a scholarly journal and numerous other publications designed to fulfill the society's mission of disseminating nursing knowledge:

  • Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship is the foremost, peer reviewed scholarly journal in nursing with a global circulation of 120,000, the highest circulation of all scholarly, research oriented nursing journals.
  • Reflections is the society's award winning, four color quarterly news magazine that communicates nurses contributions and relevance to the health of people. It is distributed to members and health care organizations worldwide.
  • Peer reviewed scholarly monographs on nursing topics are published each biennium.
  • Chapter Leader EMPHASIS is a quarterly newsletter sent to over 4,000 chapter officers and members.
  • Envision, a newsletter, is mailed twice a year to an average of 30,000 new members.

Electronic Library

In November 1989, Sigma Theta Tau International dedicated its new $5 million International Center for Nursing Scholarship. In addition to the society's headquarters, the center houses its state-of-the art electronic library.

The library was dedicated in November 1990 as the Virginia Henderson International Nursing Library. Individuals, organizations, schools of nursing and health science libraries can access the library's online services:

The Online Journal of Knowledge Synthesis for Nursing, a peer reviewed flutist electronic journal giving nurses access to integrative reviews of research pertinent to clinical practice.

Registry of Nursing Research, a collection of nursing research data including researchers' demographic information, studies, projects, abstracts, variables studies and scientific results.

In November 1995, the library launched Sigma Theta Tau's Web site, offering information on the society, related nursing information, and access to its Book Review Service, provided in collaboration with Doody Publishing, the world's leading independent reviewer of health science books.

Leadership Development

Initiated in 1991 to foster global leadership, scholarship and excell ence in nursing, Sigma Theta Tau's International Leadership Institute seeks to develop and advance nurses as leaders. The institute offers a variety of programs and services designed to address lifelong learning needs and further nurses' leadership goals across their careers.

Programs such as the Arista global think tank conferences enhance leadership skills by creating and sharing knowledge. CareerMap: Managing Your Career with a Purpose and Chiron: The Mentor-Fellow Forum are among the programs fostering career advancement, leadership development and community service. Recognition programs such as honorary membership and the prestigious Archon Awards reward exceptional leadership that enhances global health.

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