This year, Dr. Temeaka Gray was selected as one of 13 Scholars of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, granting her a spot in the 2016-17 Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy.
Gray, an assistant professor in The University of Toledo’s College of Nursing, has been a member of the society since 2012.The academy’s goals include fostering academic success, promoting nurse faculty retention, and facilitating personal leadership development, all of which are explored by projects completed by each scholar.
“The purpose of the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy is actually to expand the scope of influence and grow nurse faculty leaders — the project is a vehicle for that,” said Gray, president of the Zeta Theta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing at UT.
As part of the academy, Gray has designed a project around the topic of communication in the workplace, with the objective of recognizing best practices in communication and shared governance for faculty and administration. This is a topic in which Gray said she had much experience, co-authoring two chapters in academic works, one regarding communication and the other on shared governance in the workplace.
“A lot of the time, people are talking and not listening, but the most effective communication takes place when they listen as well as talk,” Gray said. “One of the pieces that I’ve seen through my literature review said that, in a shared governance environment, sometimes people just don’t know what their duties are. Do they have input in everything? Do they act through committees? I want to know what people think about communication, what they think shared governance means, and what perceptions of the best way to have conversations are.”
Participation as a scholar in the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy includes intensive four-day workshops, one this year and one next, and a presentation on the final project at the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Biennial Convention in Indianapolis.
Gray said even being selected was a tremendous opportunity and, once she found out she had been one of 13 global applicants chosen, the idea of being able to confer with other nurses and like-minded professionals at a greater level was an exciting prospect. The first of the four-day workshops took place in March, and Gray said the highly immersive experience was driven by self-reflection and a close look at the operating style within the academy.
“They equipped us with a journal, so we were critically looking at ourselves as people. We used tools like the leadership practice inventory and strengths finder to assess strengths and weaknesses and, based on that, where we can to improve,” Gray said. “These workshops were from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. over four days. The leadership meetings included administrative people for the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy, the leadership mentors, the faculty advisors and the scholar.”
The opportunity of being invited to participate in a program like the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing is one she hopes others in her field take.
“I always stress this to nursing students because, at that time, you don’t understand what it truly means to be recognized like this,” Gray said. “By the time I was working, to be recognized at that level was so important because it was meaningful. We go around doing what we do because it’s what we do; seeing that other people recognize it is really amazing.”
She added, “Organizations that focus on professions and disciplines like nursing are actually driven by what you do. It’s a networking opportunity; you have the opportunity to learn from other people and their experiences.”
To learn more about the Scholars of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing at UT, visit zetatheta.nursingsociety.org/home.