This Year of the Nurse, Find your Tribe of Rebel Nurses

This Year of the Nurse, Find your Tribe of Rebel Nurse Innovators 

By Marion Leary RN MSN MPH

What happens when a group of motivated, innovative, highly intelligent, and strongly convicted nurses get together? They change the world!

SONSIEL at the UN, June 2019

That is what is happing here with SONSIEL, the society of nurse scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders! I have the honor of being a founding member SONSIEL, which officially launched in May 2019. At that time, SONSIEL put out a call for nurses to come together and unleash the power of nursing — and did they ever! In doing so, this group of nurse leaders took the profession by storm; in just six short months, SONSIEL has facilitated a number of impactful events and has grown a membership of over hundreds of rebel nurses. Here is a recap of just two of the events I had the privilege of participating in, I hope they encourage you to also join this movement.

United Nations Visit

In June 2019, 40 nurses representing SONSIEL were invited to the United Nations (UN) to highlight nurses as leaders in health policy. We toured the UN campus and sat in on council meetings and hearings. As extremely cool as it was to be at the UN, it was even cooler to be there with this distinguished group of nurses.

 SONSIEL at the UN, Security Council Chambers and General Assembly, June 2019


We learned that day that there are 19 Associate Member of The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CoNGO) committees at the New York UN Headquarters. Of those 19 committees, two extraordinary nurses chair 3 of them (NGO Committee on Mental Health, NGO Committee on Education, Learning and Literacy, and NGO Health Committee — thanks to Dr. Holly Shaw for sharing this information). Excitingly, there is a clear interest in having more nursing representation on, and leading, these committees, which is why SONSIEL was invited to the UN in June. To which I say Huzzah!

After that 2-day visit SONSIEL was designated as an Associate Member of The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CoNGO) to the UN, and now have nurse delegates attending forums and sitting on committees — talk about making an impact globally! Most recently SONSIEL nurses attended the World Mental Health Day forum at the UN in October 2019, with more engagement already scheduled for early 2020.

Delegation of SONSIEL nurses at the UN World Mental Health Day

Nurse Hackathon

Over the course of my lifetime, I have had the privilege of being involved with a number of incredible events, in a variety of fields, and I can say without hesitation that the #SONSIEL #JnJ #NurseHackathon was one of the most impactful and transformative events I’ve ever been associated with. The nurse hackathon took place over a weekend in November 2019 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and brought together over 200 nurses and nursing students from around the globe. Not only did these nurses create solutions to some of the toughest health and healthcare problems in 2 (long) days, but they created a nursing innovation tribe, a community where all #nurses can come together to think creatively, think differently, and think intentionally about how nurse will lead this revolution to change the world for good!

Through the exhilarating cacophony of 19 teams working on innovative solutions, I became more and more overjoyed. I have been a nurse for 13.5 years, and in that time, I have often felt like I didn’t really fit in — a sentiment I heard over and over that weekend, and in the weeks since. At the nurse hackathon many people felt like they had finally found their tribe, their people, their nurses, me included! Thank you to everyone at SONSIEL and Johnson & Johnson for creating this space for nurses to come together, be supported, be creative and be themselves! You can watch a recap of the nurse hackathon here to be inspired.

SONSIEL JnJ 2019 Nurse Hackathon Participants

I am a big believer that we as individuals and as a profession need to be responsible for our own journey. If we want to be leaders, and be respected as leaders, we need to step up and lead. It is really that simple. The co-founders, members, and founding members of SONSIEL are doing just that, and I implore other nurses to do the same!

SONSIEL has done so many things in just half of a year, imagine what we will accomplish in 2020, the Year of the Nurse and Midwife! But we can’t do it without you — and the millions of other nurses around the United States and abroad who are already leading in your health systems, communities, institutions, companies, and beyond. Together, as a group, nay as a society, we really will change the world!

This year there are so many ways to get involved, get inspired, and join SONSIEL, check out our upcoming event and pre-order our new book:

Celebrating 200 years of Nursing Innovation
ThinC Conference & Nightingale Gala

 April 2nd & 3rd, 2020

Rebel Nurse Handbook

Pre-order it here.

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