1. Bean, Kathy B. PhD, RN, CNS, CGRN, APRN, BC, Editor

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I have recently been reminded of how small this enormous world really is. In the last month, I've been reunited with two favorite high school friends, one who is-unbelievably-a gastroenterologist!! We have all ended up with advanced degrees and lives bigger than we had ever imagined. Even more interesting is how our adult lives reflect the connections we had as teenage friends.

Figure. Kathy B. Bea... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Kathy B. Bean, PhD, RN, CGRN, APRN, BC, Editor

The connection with my gastroenterologist colleague is obvious-the clinical interest in gastroenterology patients. We've had fun sharing names of colleagues who we've come to realize are mutual acquaintances in gastroenterology circles. I actually have an upcoming meeting of the Nurse Editor Academy in my friend's home town, so I am going to not only meet his family but also tour his outpatient endoscopy center!! My second colleague is a professor of theology, so we both share an interest in the spiritual. In fact, he found me through the university Web site where I am adjunct faculty and couldn't believe I had done spirituality work in nursing. We are now talking about opportunities to work together as a multidisciplinary team. Amazing!!


One other experience of how small the world is remains fresh in my mind as well. One of our frequent contributors, who lives 500 miles away from me, became critically ill and was emergently rushed to the hospital and eventually to intensive care. Because of the criticality of her illness, her husband had certainly not thought to notify me!! Another nursing editor, however, who works with my friend knew how close we were and sent me notification of my friend's serious illness. As a result, I could immediately pray for her and rally others to do the same. Thankfully, my friend is doing well and will be making contributions to Gastroenterology Nursing and SGNA once again soon. Had it not been for this "small world," I would not have been able to support this very dear friend and valued colleague from afar, something that was very important to me.


When I reflect on my small world, I realize that it isn't really so. I've had the good fortune to travel around the globe. After 26 hours of travel to reach South Africa and 18 hour flights to Australia, I am well aware of how large our physical world is. But because of the relationships I've shared along the way, my world is pleasingly small. Relationships seem not to be as valued as they once were, however. For instance, I know of a department manager who will not allow staff to celebrate promotions, departures, awards, and so on. This manager feels it is very important to separate the "personal" (relationships) from the workplace. As a result, the staff feel isolated and robbed of the opportunity to enjoy each other's accomplishments. They do not feel valued or celebrated. A few will celebrate "in disguise" by leaving for lunch and meeting somewhere off site. What a shame that they have to be so secretive in celebrating their relationships!!


In the next few weeks, I am making a job change, and my current employer asked for my involvement in finding a new Nurse Researcher for my facility. Would it surprise you to know that I emphasized that the most important quality for the researcher is the ability to connect with others? Credentials and experience are certainly valued and of worth, but if the researcher doesn't have relational skills, the staff will not feel comfortable in approaching this person, nor will they be inspired to work alongside that individual to gain new skills and contribute to knowledge development. The ability to establish positive relationships is critical.


I hope you have found your world to be "small" in a positive way. Those of you who are active in your regional or at the national level hopefully have similar experiences in your everyday life as those I've shared. I'm always amazed at the connections I have through both gastroenterology and nursing. The connections start with mutual interests (GI or nursing) shared with others in the group that often develop into collegial or even personal relationships because of the initial link.


Just recently, Jim Prechel, GI technician at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I shared this experience. Many of you are familiar with Jim's excellent article on application of abdominal pressure. Because of Jim's manuscript, we "met" online and dialogued professionally about his manuscript during the publication process. After Jim's publication, he received the Novice Writers' Award from SGNA and has gone on to become a popular speaker and consultant for this area of GI practice. We've seen each other at SGNA meetings and enjoyed knowing each other "face-to-face." Recently, Jim came to North Texas and spoke at my regional conference. While here, my husband and I shared a fabulous steak dinner (Texas cuisine, of course) with Jim, and as a result, we are now not only gastroenterology colleagues but also personal friends. In fact, my husband e-mails Jim now, and Jim and I routinely visit with each other online!!


Despite the size of our organization and the growth of our specialty, we do belong to a "small world." I encourage you to nurture relationships in your professional life. Network with others. Expand on mutual interests that might have started only as a professional relationship. Give of yourself generously and willingly to others. Your world will become smaller, but in a very positive way!!