1. Hannah, Janet RN, CGRN

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To the Editor,


In November of 2001, I started a new job. I moved from a small town in southern West Virginia to a similar small town in northern Virginia, some 5 hours away. The hospital I previously worked in had a two room endoscopy department with one full-time gastroenterologist, one who came occasionally from a nearby hospital, and two or three surgeons who did their own endoscopy procedures. The new hospital I work in has two endoscopy rooms with plans to begin a third. This facility has four gastroenterology doctors to rotate between the two rooms. (We now have four rooms and many more staff, with six doctors).


When I was hired at my new facility, I was told that there had been a recent turnover of staff. Two girls who had been there for 2 and 5 years, respectively, had quit within a week of each other to pursue other jobs. Several nurses from the floor had been hired and had lasted from days to a month. The one full-time nurse working in endoscopy when I arrived had only been there 3 months and was learning on her own. When I arrived, I began to teach her on the basis of my knowledge and experience from working 11 years in endoscopy. Within the first 6 months of working at my new job, I had oriented at least five nurses and one or two technicians. Having the Gastroenterology Nursing: A Core Curriculum (Domkowski & Schlossberg, 1998) textbook and procedure manuals at hand helped, but there was nothing available that could easily be brought into a room and referred to throughout a case.


During my transition year, I was unable to attend the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) Annual Course because I had not accumulated enough vacation time to take off. I continued to think about the need of more information at a relatively basic level that could be used to help orient new staff with no endoscopy experience at all. I knew I would be attending the SGNA annual course the next year (2002) and wrote a resolution for the House of Delegates (HOD). The resolution proposed that more teaching tools needed to be available, such as a pocket manual that would be able to come into the room with the nurse or technician. This pocket handbook would include basic upper and lower procedures, anatomy, terminology, and the most frequently used medications. Although the Core Curriculum and procedure manuals were already available, they were not convenient to use during a case because they were too large and bulky. I also didn't want to get those references dirty or messed up by handling them during procedures or having them on counters in the room.


I attended the HOD meetings in 2002 where my resolution was presented. I spoke of my experience orienting so many new staff, none of whom had any endo experience, and the need for more teaching tools. The discussion that occurred was mostly in favor of the tool, with a few saying there were some publications available (but I never did get the names of any of those publications).


The resolution passed the session of HOD and was then presented to the SGNA Board of Directors (BOD). The BOD also passed my request, and it was forwarded to the SGNA Education Committee. I sent in a willingness to serve form and was invited to join the Education Committee in the early spring of 2005. One of the items on the agenda was the development of a pocket manual (which was eventually renamed a pocket guide). The members of the committee decided that because I was the originator of the resolution, I should explain what I was looking for in a pocket guide. We then developed a plan to write down what we felt should be included along with which parts we wanted to work on.


We had a fall meeting in 2005 and started to put together all of our rough ideas, to develop a full outline of content, and to determine the order to which content would be placed in the guide. We all took assignments that were to be completed by the 2006 spring meeting. At the 2006 spring meeting, we again worked on content format, outline of content, and completed the decisions as to what to include in our new product. Much discussion went into the shape and size of the product. We met in the fall of 2006 for a final review and editing for content and format. After just 1 year, the product would undergo the final editing, would be reviewed by the SGNA Education Committee staff, and would be sent to the printers. The new product was available for sale at the 2007 SGNA conference as the SGNA GI Nursing Pocket Guide: Level One.


Those of us on the committee were all very excited and could not wait to actually see the finished product. This was the first new book developed by the SGNA in several years. I was especially ecstatic to hear that we would be able to purchase it in May 2007. This had been my idea in the beginning, so to have the resolution pass and be acted upon was such an exciting occurrence for me!! And to be able to be part of the committee that actually developed the book was just a fantastic experience.


I want to encourage all members to be active in the SGNA process. Submit resolutions; volunteer to serve on committees. The system does work. Our new publication (that I am proudly calling "my book") proves that our concerns are heard by our leaders. Dare to get involved!!


Janet Hannah, RN, CGRN


Region 64, West




Domkowski, K., & Schlossberg, N. (1998). Gastroenterology nursing: A core curriculum. St. Louis, MO: Mosby. [Context Link]