Behind the Scenes | Tuesday, November 24, 2020
SGNA President Michelle Juan's Remarks From the 47th Annual Course: A Virtual Experience
SGNA recently held the 47th Annual Course: A Virtual Experience (Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2020). Hear from SGNA President Michelle Juan and read the full transcript below for remarks from the virtual event.
Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for spending the last few days with us. I am Michelle Juan, your 2020-2021 SGNA President. Or, as I like to say, I’m your pandemic president.
Like many of you, I am sorry for many activities that have been impacted this year by COVID-19. This includes my disappointment over the loss of an in-person 47th Annual Course where we could honor my predecessor, Lea Anne Myers, for her service to SGNA as your president. Instead of the formal farewell she deserves, she’s had me meddling with her event for the last few months.
However, she’s approached my interference just like she has approached the many other challenges that have come our way this year, with a calm presence that helps balance my occasional quirkiness.
As a fellow Indiana girl, I have felt a strong kinship with Lea Anne, and appreciated her mentorship before and during my transition to the president role earlier this year. Lea Anne is a role model who has helped me learn and grow during our time together, and I am a better leader thanks to her.
While Lea Anne was our president, SGNA updated several of our technology tools and platforms to make it easier for you to access them; developed new webinars, eLearning courses and practice documents to address your existing and emerging information needs; and created new tools to promote membership and our practice documents. This is all in addition to updating the Core Curriculum, which was no small undertaking!
Just like every other initiative she led during her tenure, Lea Anne has ensured that this event was a successful one – no matter what shape it took or when we had to host it.
I hope that you have enjoyed getting to know each other or reconnecting with old friends, and sampling the wealth of information on disease, infection prevention and endoscope reprocessing that’s been available to you since Saturday morning. Don’t forget, you can go back and watch the session recordings from the last few days, AND an additional 20 presentations, through this platform, for the next 30 days.
I would like to echo the words of appreciation, previously shared by members of the Program Committee, to the countless volunteers and supporters for their significant contributions of time and resources to make this event possible for our community.
We know that many of you rely on this event to support your certification or re-certification efforts in addition to your professional development. There are a total of 32 contact hours available through the live and on-demand presentations, so make sure you complete your evaluations to claim all you attend.
To our friends at ABCGN, I would like to thank you for working with SGNA to make a number of GI-specific live contact hours available for sessions at this event.
We recognize that our sponsors have also faced uncertainty as we’ve had to make changes to the event this year. I would like to thank all of our sponsors and exhibitors – for sticking by us and continuing to support us through the evolution of the event. If there is someone you wanted to visit in the virtual exhibit hall but didn’t have the opportunity yet, there’s still time to request information or send them a message within this event platform over the next 30 days. They are ready and willing to help.
To the Program Committee who have worked diligently to adapt our program to a virtual format and ensure it delivers relevant and timely education, I would also like to share a heart-felt thank you! Without you as our “behind the scenes team,” this would not be possible.
All of our event speakers and poster presenters have shown so much flexibility in developing and delivering presentations – thank you, it is greatly appreciated. Take a moment, when you’re filling out your event evaluation, or even through a private message in this platform, to show your favorite speakers a little love.
I’m sure you’re as weary of the word pivot as I am, but SGNA has had to pivot more than once through this pandemic to deliver an annual course this year. For that I do need to thank the SmithBucklin staff, including Kim, Cindy, Madeline, Sarah and Kiana. They’ve made major adjustments in a short amount of time to deliver the Annual Course in the virtual format. I would like to thank each of those team members for navigating these unchartered waters with us.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge you, our devoted SGNA members, who have been patient with our changes and supportive of the organization and each other this year. As Lea Anne mentioned, you have helped guide and advise each other through these unprecedented times. Thank you for being there for each other!
While this isn’t the year we had planned I think it is a time of great opportunity for the society to demonstrate our thoughtful leadership and continue to establish our position as THE voice of GI professionals.
While much has been put on hold this year due to the pandemic, ultimately, cancer doesn’t care about COVID-19, neither do conditions like IBD, constipation, GERD, hepatitis, celiac disease, gastroparesis and irritable bowel disease just to name a few. People still need our care. In fact, since those conditions can often be worsened by stress, their need is even greater right now.
Even though it’s difficult, we are going to have to learn how to live with the pandemic, and provide the critical screenings and treatments our patients need until the situation improves. We can’t put our lives and the long-term health of our communities on hold indefinitely. That means we’re going to have to thrive in an environment where COVID is a consideration in our daily lives. That may look different where you live and practice but the SGNA community is here with you.
It is even more critical that we’re doing the things that further the practice of gastroenterology and endoscopy in the coming weeks and months, and that we encourage others to follow our lead. Colorectal cancer awareness, best practices and education, and pushing forward with our guidelines are all still vitally important.
The SGNA board and volunteer leaders can’t do this alone. We need people to engage in activities that support membership and the society.
Membership growth is the key to continuing to amplify our voice. Together, a larger community can be even more impactful in advocating for best practices. More people, getting more involved, is the way we will all flourish.
One of my priorities for my term is to amplify the voice and impact of our community. In support of this, one area of focus for me will be providing the best resources we possibly can for members to help turn attention back to these critical areas of care.
To that end, the board will spend time in early 2021 reviewing our programs to ensure everything we’re doing drives value and positions us to serve not just today’s community of GI nurses and associates, but also positions us to serve the needs of the next generation. And we will adjust and evolve as needed with that objective in mind.
We know that many in our community are long-time GI professionals in the hospital setting. You and your facilities are loyal supporters who share and teach with SGNA resources and bring your new colleagues along.
But our workplaces are changing, and we cannot reach everyone who would benefit from SGNA or could contribute their voice to our efforts simply through doing what we’ve always relied on. The same is true for our specialty. We need to consider a new approach to recruitment.
There are two areas I believe to be critical to the future of SGNA – those new to GI, and student nurses. It may take more effort, or be harder to accomplish with so much attention focused elsewhere, but the wealth of information available to those who are transitioning into our specialty is unparalleled. It’s a benefit that can’t be found elsewhere. Our nurse and associate members, regional members, nurse managers and administrators each play a role in demonstrating the value of SGNA to that new audience, and making sure they tap into the community actively to derive that full value.
We also need to change the way we think about student nurses. I know we’ve typically not sought to bring newer nurses into GI and endoscopy. I believe we’re losing nurses to other specialties by waiting until they’re already experienced. Nursing is experiencing a shortage that will only grow as more retire. Student nurses need to know we’re here. Therefore, in early 2021, you will see that SGNA will be offering a student nurse membership.
Expanding our reach and impact is a marathon, not a sprint. It can be as simple as having one conversation a month, sending an email through our new referral program, or commenting on a social media post. Your words of encouragement about SGNA or our specialty to those who are not already part of our community, or to advocate for a best practice you learned about here is more impactful than you may realize. First-hand experiences are the most credible to those who are considering a change.
It may seem I’m asking a lot of you, and you’re probably thinking you simply can’t take on one more thing. I understand. The president’s role has definitely added a lot of responsibility to my plate. But then I remind myself of this quote from Mother Theresa that I would now like to share with you:
"None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."
It is this concept that drove the development of the theme for our 48th Annual Course. I’m sure you’ve seen that theme by now, which is Amplify Your Voice, Accelerate Our Impact. While I hope we will be able to come together in-person in Pittsburgh in May, I do realize we don’t know what the future will hold.
What I am confident of is that SGNA will continue to deliver the education and peer information-sharing that you need as an individual to advance patient care, while ensuring the collective community comes out of the pandemic stronger than before.
This year has been full of challenges that no other President has had to navigate, but I am not one to shy away when things get hard especially knowing the resilience of the SGNA members I serve!
Together we can amplify our voices and accelerate our impact in our GI specialty!
Thank you for your time!