1. Cialfi, Sandra A. MBA, BSN, RN, CGRN

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As I begin my presidency year, more than anything I want to get this right-right in the sense that the theme for this year provides meaning and impact for all of us. I hope all members will feel a connection to and recognize this year's message and that it will be intricately woven into the tapestry of our professional lives. I would like every aspect of what we hear from the SGNA this year to drive home the notion that we all sit in an influential seat in our work life. We should not underestimate or take for granted the power that we wield.

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As members of the SGNA, we have an armamentarium of educational resources that put us at the apex of influencing and improving gastrointestinal (GI) and endoscopy nursing practice, enabling us to meet the needs of our patients in ways that could not have been done decades ago. These resources steer all of us into the future, shaping how we will practice in the years to come. I have come to believe we forge our destiny in ways that many of us do not fully appreciate. It really does begin with you.


We have an incredible opportunity and responsibility. We need to be mindful of our power and set the wheels in motion to use our influence and presence in the most constructive way. We are empowered. As professionals, we need to understand empowerment, recognize it, and then use it to create an impact in our work life.


Empowerment is defined as "increased intrinsic task motivation which involves those generic conditions by an individual, pertaining directly to the task, that produce motivation and satisfaction" (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). The critical elements in Thomas and Velthouse's (1990) conceptual model of empowerment include the following:


* Sense of impact


* Competence


* Meaningfulness


* Progress



We are empowered when we feel we are making a difference and that change is affected in a positive direction. This requires us to have a level of competence in the area that we are trying to influence. We cannot make a difference without education, or without competence. Empowerment also involves meaningfulness of the task at hand; we need to see the relevance, the impact of the influence, and also the progress. Being empowered includes the notion that we are moving ahead, going forward.


There are numerous published studies on the topic of empowerment in nursing. Suffice it to say, there is a positive correlation between empowerment and outcomes including the following:


* Increased productivity


* Enthusiasm


* Morale and creativity


* Higher quality products and services


* Improved teamwork


* Customer service and competitive position


* Increased speed and responsiveness


* Lessened emotional impact of demoralizing organizational changes and restructuring



How does the SGNA play a pivotal role in our empowerment? The organization provides us with the tools for our professional growth. First, on a personal level, the SGNA provides us individually with education, scholarships, and the tools to achieve certification. In the GI world, the SGNA offers us standards, policies, and procedures to establish best practices in our work life. The SGNA also offers partnerships and networking, not only with our nursing peer professionals but also with other professionals in the GI industry. Additionally, on a more global level, the SGNA offers us prestige and growth within our nursing profession.


It does not stop here; there is another aspect of our growth beyond the mechanics of a didactic education. It is how we present and represent ourselves. There is much to be said for perception, both positive and negative. We must begin to understand that how we present ourselves speaks volumes not only for us individually but about "us" collectively. That is a responsibility that we should not take lightly. It is a responsibility that we need to understand and use to the best of our ability. The presence we create is the presence others will use to define us-to define GI nurses and associates. We need to take stock in this. How we speak, what we say, and how we interact with our professional colleagues are the brushstrokes of who we are.


Similar to a handful of other professions, we often have the media working against us. Nurses today continue to be portrayed in a less than meaningful light, be it the media or syndicated television. Just recently in the Sunday newspaper, PARADE Magazine (April 15, 2007; see the "The Hottest Jobs (No College Degree Required)" sidebar on p. 4) listed nursing as one of the "Hot Jobs" that one could get without a college education. Although part of this message remains true today, it does not portray an accurate picture of the nursing profession. We need to be portrayed as well-educated professionals. This type of attention is a distraction from who we are and, more important, who we can become. Attention such as this serves to undermine the challenging work and education that goes into delivering quality patient care in our technologically driven time. After 25+ years into my career, I struggle with this type of press. On many levels it goes back to the basic tenet that I began with-it begins with you.


Let us take this next year to appreciate the vast educational resources that the SGNA has to offer and to appreciate our individual and collective strength. We do have the power to make a difference.




Thomas, K. W., & Velthouse, B. A. (1990). Cognitive elements of empowerment: An "interpretative" model of intrinsic task motivation. Academy of Management Review, 15, 666-681. [Context Link]