1. Juan, Michelle MSN, RN, CGRN
  2. SGNA President, 2020-2021

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It's an understatement to say the year 2020 will be memorable. Some memories will invoke positive feelings while others will be memories we hope to not experience again. Most of us had our lives completely turned upside down. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed everything in a short period of time, from our daily routines to how we live, work, and even function as a society. New rules and terms were mandated to us. Many of us headed to medical-surgical nursing floors, emergency rooms, COVID-19 triage hubs, and intensive care units to fill staffing shortage gaps.

Michelle Juan, MSN, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMichelle Juan, MSN, RN, CGRN, SGNA President, 2020-2021

I have heard many stories of brave nurses and other healthcare members going above and beyond, sometimes sacrificing their own safety to care for the very sick. Some nurses have returned to "floor" nursing after being gone for 20 plus years! These are inspiring stories, and, yet, there are tragic stories as well. Across the United States, schools and businesses closed; conferences, weddings, and graduations were canceled. I think it is safe to say that every SGNA member who reads this editorial has been affected by COVID-19 in some way. That is a staggering reality.


Even as I write this, our country is beginning to reopen slowly, with a phased approach for getting back to normal. Endoscopy staff will now turn their attention back to what we do best, and it will likely look much different. Infection prevention has always been the top priority for SGNA, but COVID-19 will force all of us to determine a new set of best practices that is still evolving. The flow of endoscopy and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be a top priority. Patients will question the safety of coming in for elective procedures. Protocols for testing asymptomatic patients for the virus may be developed which may result in higher cost to patients. There will be many unknowns that we will need to navigate in the coming months.


Typically, the incoming president for SGNA introduces him/herself in this guest editorial and announces the theme for the next year's annual course. However, 2020 is not a usual year. The SGNA Board of Directors with much thought and preparation made the difficult decision to postpone the annual course typically held in May annually. My words cannot begin to convey the multiple discussions held and the number of thoughts that must be considered to ensure that, as a Board, we made the right plan for the health and safety of our members and the sustainability and longevity of SGNA. The bigger picture, which includes financial aspect of canceling and rescheduling contracts, was done with support of our SmithBucklin partners and legal counsel.


We realize that not every member will agree with all the decisions we are making on behalf of SGNA. As your next President, this has been the most difficult aspect of this position. My commitment to you and SGNA is to make decisions that will ensure SGNA is a viable organization for many years to come. With that responsibility comes hard decisions about how we utilize our resources and move forward as an organization. I recently read Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, an acclaimed author and speaker in leadership. She talks about "clear is kind." This statement resonates with me. Many of us are often afraid to have courageous conversations because we feel the other person will not understand or we are avoiding difficult situations that make us uncomfortable. My objective is to be clear, but kind, in telling you this is going to be a tough year for us as an organization. However, we are not alone in this challenge as many other nursing and professional organizations are faced with similar circumstances and difficult decisions.


Through it all, SGNA will stay true to our mission and focus on our membership. We will build each other up during this time of unknowns through our SGNA communities. We will share knowledge and best practices. We will increase the number of virtual learning opportunities available to you. Our volunteer committees will continue to push forward guidelines, education, and best practice resources. SGNA is, and will continue to be, the voice for gastroenterology nurses and associates!


SGNA's annual course "Leverage Resources, Create Momentum, Tap Into the Current," now scheduled for November 1-3, 2020, is the perfect opportunity to support each other and leverage the resources we have collectively. The last few months have exemplified how each of you are "leveraging resources" through sharing your experiences and new best practices while we have navigated this pandemic. You have created momentum in your facilities and communities. This is remarkable and is the spirit of SGNA and its members. I am honored and blessed to be your SGNA President for 2020-2021!


I am excited to "Leverage Resources, Create Momentum, and Tap Into the Current" in Louisville this fall with all of you and our 2019-2020 president, Lea Anne Myers. I hope to see many of you there and am looking forward to reconnecting. I miss seeing you, my SGNA friends. But until we can be all together again, please be safe and healthy!