1. Baker, Kathy A. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, CGRN

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As I write this editorial, I am in St. Louis preparing for the 36th Annual Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) course. Soon-to-be president Theresa (Terrie) Vos addressed SGNA leadership today with an inspirational and vision-casting address about our responsibilities as SGNA leaders. Terrie reminded us that as decisions are made for this organization, they must be driven by what is for the greater good, and not for our own personal agenda or even that of our employing organization. Most likely 20 or 30 years ago, these words of wisdom would have seemed unnecessary, because that is exactly how people lived their lives; but today[horizontal ellipsis]not so much. I agree with Terrie that this reminder is needed, and further, support that we must again embrace this value in our professional lives, regardless of our role or title.


I think we sometimes are remiss in approaching our professionalism from the stance of "for the greater good;" yet, this should be our primary motivation for seeking certification, higher education, committee service, and participating in professional organizations such as SGNA. Of course we benefit personally, and there is nothing selfish about that if it is not the primary motivation. Certification demonstrates to our patients, colleagues, and society that we are committed to a high level of knowledge in our specialty, not for personal gain, but to provide our patients with outstanding care. Higher education provides us with new lenses that expand our view of nursing, healthcare, leadership, and service in ways that small doses of continuing education can never do. Sure, it feels great when someone calls me "Dr. Baker," but that wasn't my motivation for obtaining my doctoral degree; instead, I knew having that credential would open doors for me to advance nursing and nurses' contributions to patient care in a very public, powerful way. When you are educated, people listen. Our society respects formal education, and well it should. Nurses need to obtain both certification and higher education throughout their careers, "for the greater good" of our patients and discipline.


Committee service develops our leadership skills and fosters a connection to our organization. It also enhances our sense of loyalty and vision for the mission we are dedicated to achieve. Committees do the work of the group they represent, regardless of whether the committee exists in your employing institution or your professional organization. Serving on committees has helped me to achieve much more as part of that group then I ever could have attained flying solo. Even if the final work of the committee was not exactly how I would have implemented things, I still had the opportunity to voice my perspectives and influence the direction of that work group "for the greater good."


Active membership in professional organizations such as SGNA allows us to participate in shaping the direction of our nursing specialty. Members have a voice in the organization through electing leaders who then make the decisions for the organization with regard for the member's desires and best interests. Members benefit from the many resources available through the larger organization that would not be possible through the limited resources of a smaller group. The organization is able to speak powerfully on behalf of the membership, much more so than that of individual voices attempting to affect change.


In all of these ways, we are able to achieve "the greater good" in making contributions to society as nurses and associates. If this value is not currently part of your approach to the work you do as a gastroenterology professional, I hope you will give some deep, reflective thought to embracing this stance in all you do as you care for patients, work alongside other healthcare professionals, deliver care in your employing institution, and benefit from the many resources of SGNA and the other professional associations that act in your interest. The decisions you make, care you give, and the actions you take as a nurse and associate should be driven by that underlying notion of "for the greater good." That is how we change the world.