1. Malick, K. Jane BSN, RN, CGRN

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To the Editor,


As I complete my first of a 2-year term as the Western Pennsylvania Society of Gastrointestinal Associates (WPSGNA) division chair, I have come to realize the importance of supporting the SGNA within the local and regional areas. I have been a member of the SGNA for over 20 years and have only recently become active within our local region. My interest began when a former colleague, who has since retired, asked me to assist her in hosting a local educational meeting. Neither of us had prior experience in developing educational programs. This "lack of experience" turned out to be most beneficial, as we bonded and worked together to coordinate a high-quality educational meeting, complete with excellent speakers and good food!! Upon review of the course evaluations, we learned that our speakers, topic, and food were excellent. One negative theme was noted, however, by several attending: We had not submitted the necessary application for continuing education hours. My colleague and I immediately decided that we would contact our then division chair and volunteer to do another educational program the following year. This time, we applied for contact hours (including "GI-specific"), which were awarded and we were proud to add this to our certificates of attendance. Since that time, I have continued to be active within our local society, serving on the planning committee for several meetings. My activity has even expanded to speaking at local meetings.


On January 1, 2007, I accepted the position of division chair within the Western Pennsylvania region. My experience with planning educational meetings has enabled me to help others get started and get involved with the SGNA on the local level. I would like to encourage others to become active within their local/regional SGNA. Please do not wait for more than 20 years to get involved like I did!! Instead, take advantage of participating in local SGNA activities. It is much easier than you think.


* Tap into the local expertise. In my history of GI nursing, I have yet to see a physician not willing to speak at an educational forum. In fact, most physicians love to teach, and they find it satisfying that nurses and associates are interested in continuing education.


* Tap into the expertise that now exists within the SGNA Web site. The SGNA now offers the ability to submit applications for continuing education hours online. Applications submitted through the SGNA are automatically forwarded to the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN) for GI-specific content. This is ideal for those who wish to maintain certification through contact hours. In my experience, the SGNA educational liaisons are most helpful and responsive to questions surrounding the completion of an application.


* Tap into the opportunity for networking on a local level: Individuals may not have the opportunity to attend national meetings secondary to fiscal and work schedule constraints. Hosting and attending local educational programs represents an economical way to keep abreast of current issues related to gastroenterology.



As we continue to emphasize the importance of continuing education and achieving and maintaining certification, we must not forget the many benefits that the SGNA has to offer, especially on the local level. In closing, I want to encourage all to be active not only on the national level, but also on the local level. Encourage your colleagues to help in planning educational meetings. Encourage nonmembers to attend educational meetings. It is easier than you think. In fact, it may become contagious and our membership will continue to grow!!


K. Jane Malick, BSN, RN, CGRN


Western Pennsylvania Division Chair, Region 47 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center,