The Pulse | Thursday, June 11, 2020
A Q&A With Betty McGinty, 2020 SGNA Gabrielle Schindler Award for Clinical Excellence Winner
Betty McGinty, RN MSHSA CGRN CER, was named the 2020 SGNA Gabrielle Schindler Award for Clinical Excellence Winner. SGNA recently spoke with McGinty to learn about her professional journey, the values and best practices that exemplify clinical excellence and what this award means to her.
This award recognizes an SGNA member who demonstrates excellence in gastroenterology clinical practice. Thinking back on your professional journey, what got you to where you are today?
My professional journey in GI began early in my career, when I left the intensive care unit to work for a gastroenterologist, Dr. Napier Burson, Jr. He taught me so much about anatomy and physiology, as well as disease processes of the gastrointestinal system. He trained me thoroughly in conducting a GI assessment and successfully piqued my interest in making the specialty “mine.”
My adventure moved into the world of GI endoscopy. I accepted an opportunity to open and manage an endoscopy unit in a small, physician-owned hospital in downtown Atlanta. At this location, I worked with and learned from two key physicians: Dr. Carter Davis and Dr. Steve Morris. My role involved unit leadership as well as hands-on procedural assistance. I prepped, sedated, monitored and recovered the patient. I also assisted the physician in the tech role, and finally, I reprocessed the scope for the next patient. I became, what I have referenced in years to follow, a “real GI nurse.”
My travels landed me in a larger hospital facility where I was allowed to grow professionally over time, gaining the title of director and acquiring additional areas of responsibility, while maintaining the primary GI specialty focus. I knew I needed a professional organization connection to guide my practice and became an SGNA member in 1987.
I look to the GI nurses and associates practicing now, and in future generations to come, to be “real GI nurses,” focusing upon excellence in delivery of every task involved in the patient’s procedural experience, and doing so with advocacy and compassion.
My involvement initially began with local division and regional leadership as chairperson and president. I prepared for certification via past journals and experience in the field (no formal program was available at the time) and have proudly cherished that achievement since 1994.
Valuing education, I started attending the SGNA Annual Course and began submitting abstracts for presentations. I vividly remember meeting Marilyn Shaffner at one of my presentations, and she urged me to get involved with an SGNA committee. I joined the education committee, and I found myself a few years later — persuaded by Cindy Friis, SGNA associate executive director of clinical affairs — to move into the role of chair. That role helped prepare me for continued SGNA leadership roles: nominations and elections committee, board of directors, secretary and president. I thank Janet Hannah for her confidence in me when she nominated me for the board.
What are some of the values or best practices you hold that exemplify clinical excellence?
Clinical excellence to me means doing things consistently, the right way. SGNA has and continues to provide direction and guidance for achieving such an objective. I am grateful for the many years I have been allowed SGNA involvement in committees, programs and other initiatives that support clinical excellence.
What does receiving this award mean to you?
I am so honored to have been selected to receive this prestigious award that recognizes clinical excellence. Gabriele Schindler, in her assistive role during endoscopy, provided for patient sedation, monitoring, emotional support and was described as instituting head-holding that allowed a clear airway. She was recognized as being instrumental in the ultimate success of the procedure because of the soothing reassurance she gave the patients. She was “a real GI nurse.”
What is your advice for the next generation of GI nurses and associates?
I look to the GI nurses and associates practicing now, and in future generations to come, to be “real GI nurses,” focusing upon excellence in delivery of every task involved in the patient’s procedural experience, and doing so with advocacy and compassion. I urge continued membership and support of GI clinical excellence through active involvement in SGNA.