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When I became a nurse in 1996, I never imagined that I would be writing my first editorial for a nursing journal. I also did not imagine being a published author or having the passion that I do today for my specialty in nursing. I fell in love with the gastroenterology patient during my first job on a gastrointestinal (GI) medical-surgical unit. The patient population was varied. They were young with GI bleeds and inflammatory bowel disease. They were older with colon cancer. They were young and old with pancreatic cancer. This first year of nursing was filled with learning, healing, and loss. The loss drove me to pursue another way to care for gastroenterology patients.
I transferred to the GI Endoscopy Lab in my second year of nursing. GI Endoscopy was perfect. I honed my skills at starting intravenous lines. We treated outpatients and inpatients, and at the end of the day, everyone went home or back to their inpatient room. I learned from the physicians and my nursing peers about how to care for the endoscopy patient and became familiar with the GI anatomy. In 1998, I had the opportunity to travel to a post-Digestive Disease Week (DDW) conference in South Carolina where I met Nancy Schlossberg for the first time. This educational experience widened my perspective and ignited a passion to do more.
In mid-1999, I was given the opportunity to open the second endoscopy surgery center for a large gastroenterology practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I was the youngest nurse in the building, but the surgery center was my responsibility. This role taught me how to use resources to guide the policies and practices of the facility. The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) and its publications began to guide my practice as a gastroenterology nurse. I expanded my knowledge to include billing and coding regulations, equipment procurement, supply purchasing, Medicare certification, credentialing, and human resource management.
In 2002, my husband's job moved us to New Jersey, and I was introduced to office-based endoscopy. I was hired by a five-physician practice as an additional RN and then eventually managed the practice. Again, I attended an educational seminar and encountered Nancy Schlossberg. She advised me on how to assist my practice into providing safer care by implementing one change at a time and use evidence to implement the changes. These physicians valued my input and sent me to my first SGNA Annual Course in Dallas.
While at this New Jersey practice, I managed patients with Hepatitis C who were being treated with interferon and ribavirin. I also managed Crohn patients being treated with Remicade. Our practice began performing capsule endoscopy before it had its own current procedural terminology (CPT) code. It was an exciting time in my career, because I felt I was making an impact in the patients' lives and improving care.
In 2005, we ventured back to Texas. Several physicians with whom I had previously worked were opening their own endoscopy surgery center and hired me to open it. I was involved during construction and could use my past experiences and local peers as resources. I was asked by a peer to help with the North Texas SGNA. We planned a large regional conference that also offered the certification review course. Laura Schneider was the President of NTSGNA at the time and she has become a valued peer. I attended the annual SGNA conference in Baltimore, and I was becoming more and more engaged in how I could contribute more to my specialty.
In 2010, I returned to the hospital setting.
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