Aga Khan University School of Nursing, Karachi Pakistan (AKU-SON) offers a three year diploma program, a two year Post RN BScN Program, a four year Generic BScN Program & a two years MScN program. Several nurse scholars & researchers from other universities have visited & given presentations on research, publication & scholarly activities & emphasized to students, nurses & faculty members to work towards scholarship as it is a dire need for nurses in Pakistan.
One of the scholars, Dr. Lucie Kelly, Former STTI president, & Editor of a Professional Journal, impacted on nurses thinking in Aga Khan University. From then onwards, students returning from graduate studies, think of bringing a continuous flow of knowledge through some means.
This is where the idea originated in the mind of our former President, Ms Rafat Jan. She met with her Faculty, Dr. Marie Lobo in Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) where the idea about the "mean" was identified in the form of establishment of STTI chapter. She helped her to get the application form & reviewed the details.
Her advisor Dr. Carol Smith introduced her to Dr. Sarah Gueldner who had been the vice president of the society for many years & was also a book reviewer in the ' Image Journal of Nursing Scholarship'.
It was from there that our journey to establish the honor society started. Rafat Jan after returning in1994 initiated dialogue with Dr. Paula Herberg the then Associate Dean Nursing, AKU-SON & Dr. Yasmin Amarsi the then Director, AKU-SON. Dr. Paula Herberg, Former Associate Dean Nursing, Dr. Grace Miller, former Director, Nursing services & Dr. Yasmin Amarsi, the then Director, AKU-SON appreciated the idea of establishing a chapter at AKU-SON. They suggested that a concept paper for the President of AKU should be submitted. The president gave his approval in 1996 & agreed to support the idea.
Dr. Herberg also discussed the same with the former Dean & Acting Rector of AKU, Dr. John Dirks, who also endorsed his approval for the honor society.
The first step was forming a Steering Committee. Some national nurses such as Ms Shanaz Cassum, Senior Instructor, AKU-SON, Ms Nilofer Zindani, Assistant Manager, Nursing Services, Mrs. Amtul Anis, former President, Pakistan Nurses Federation, Ms Ilmiya Mughal, Director General Nursing, Sindh, on hearing this idea were excited & started working with Ms Rafat Jan to form the steering committee. First meeting of the Steering Committee was held on November 23, 1995.
In September 1996 we had our first Induction Ceremony of the Honor Society. Dr. Naeema Al-Gasser from Bahrain, a graduate of Illinois University & the member of the STTI was the chief guest. We will always remember when she stated that they were trying to establish a chapter in their own country but they did not have the support of their administrators, which is what she witnessed here in Pakistan. She appreciated the support that was extended by the president of AKU. She also stated that the honor society at AKU would be the first Honor Society in the Muslim World.
The President sat through the entire ceremony. He stated that in this institution nurses were the first one to be introduced, as the School of Nursing, was the first programme to begin on the campus, even before the medical college, which is the norm in the country. The expansion of the SON building, the Rufayda Al-Islamiya building was the first one on the campus, & now by opening a chapter of the honor society, the first of its kind in Pakistan, AKU-SON nurses have once again taken the lead. In this ceremony two renowned nursing figures of Pakistan were inducted namely, Mrs. Amtul Anis the former President of Pakistan Nursing Federation (PNF), & Ilmiya Mughal, Director General of Sindh Province.
During the initial years of this journey, we have had few other special memorable events. Dr. Beverly Henry came as a keynote speaker to the second national symposium of AKU in September 1996. She provided the nurses with information about the honor society & encouraged them to work for establishment of chapter. Secondly, Dr. Afaf Ibrahim Meleise; Professor, University CSE who was the keynote speaker for the International National Nurses Day, May 1997 on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Pakistan, also made a presentation on research & scholarship to the Honor Society members.
Several other presentations & small activities have taken place in the four years.
In 1999, the Honor Society of Aga Khan University School of Nursing (HS-AKU-SON) applied to the headquarters of the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) in Indianapolis, USA for upgrading its status to a chapter. In this regard, Dr. Sarah H. Gueldner, an evaluation site consultant of the STTI, visited the HS-AKU-SON in Pakistan from July 26 to August 3, 1999. The purpose of her visit was to evaluate the status of the Honor Society for becoming a chapter & submit her recommendations to the headquarter of the STTI for approval.
On August 3, 1999 Dr. Gueldner shared her assessment of HS-AKU-SON with members in their General Body Meeting. The directors of AKU-SON & Nursing Services of Aga Khan University, Director General Nursing of Sindh, Controller Nursing Examination Board, & Principal College of Nursing, Punjab attended this meeting.
Dr. Gueldner was highly impressed by the academic activities of the members & the progress of HS-AKU-SON. She found the working environment of the university incredibly supportive for faculty's higher education & professional development. She appreciated the dedication of Rafat Jan as a founder president of this Honor Society & congratulated all the members for their efforts in establishing & sustaining this Honor Society.
In conclusion, Dr. Gueldner said that this Honor Society exhibits several strengths that would qualify it for becoming a chapter. This would be highly endorsed in her recommendation to the headquarter of STTI. At the end she expressed her gratitude to the staff members & community at large for their kindness & hospitality extended to her. She also made a generous donation to the Honor Society-AKU-SON.
The nursing profession in Pakistan achieved a miles tone on Saturday September 09, 2000 when Aga Khan University of Nursing-Honor Society received its charter to be the chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI).
At the charter ceremony, the honor society was formally named the "Rho Delta Chapter" by the installing officer nominated by STTI, Dr. Melanie C. Dreher, Dean & professor, College of Nursing, University of IOWA .In her introductory remarks she said, "STTI encourages & sponsors research, promotes the development of nursing leadership & supports the development of nursing scholars".
All nurse members of the honor society were invited for being inducted as chapter members. A great sense of pride & honor pervaded through the auditorium as 131 members got inducted into this scholarly organisation. Many nursing leaders such as Clara Pasha, Nursing Advisor Government of Pakistan, Faiz Alamzaib, Vice President, Pakistan Nursing Council, Illimiya Mughal, President of Pakistan Nursing Federation, Dr. Yasmin Amarsi, Associate Dean, AKU-SON, Rafat Jan, President Rho Delta Chapter & other national nurses got inducted on this auspicious occasion.
During charter ceremony, Rafat Jan, the founding president of the chapter received the charter for Rho Delta & Shanaz Cassum, Vice President received the coat of Arms. They both recited the pledge Signifying its commitment with the STTI goal.
Dr. Shamsh Kassim Lakha, former President, Aga Khan University highlighted the importance of this international recognition & linkages in his congratulatory remarks he stated, "university is proud to be training the nursing leaders of tomorrow, who will now be part of a world wide community of nursing scholars".