The Pulse | Thursday, November 11, 2021
Empowering GI Professional Diversity Scholarship: Spotlight on Vicki Purpura, BBA RN CGRN
Earlier this year, SGNA announced its first recipients of the Empowering GI Professional Diversity Scholarship. The scholarship program, supported by Boston Scientific Corporation, focuses on increasing diversity and inclusion within the GI profession, and awards six recipients $50,000 in scholarship funds to pursue coursework toward bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degrees in nursing, or nursing RN program classes.
We caught up with one of the SGNA member recipients — Vicki Purpura, BBA RN CGRN — to discover how they entered the profession, plans for their career and lessons they’ve learned along the way.
When and how did you first become interested in the GI nursing profession?
I was working my usual shift in the recovery room, and the endoscopy nurse had called in sick. My boss asked me if I was interested in helping in endoscopy, and I said sure. Little did I know that decision would change my life. In my first hour, I was hooked. Fortunately for me, that nurse had actually quit, and I was able to stay in the department. That was 18 years ago, and I still love working in endoscopy!
Can you share your plans for your career? How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
My career goals include becoming the first nursing director of the new GI fellowship that has been started at my hospital. We are in the second year of the fellowship, and I am proposing to the medical director and our CEO that the fellowship would benefit from having a nursing director. I am dedicated to growing the field of GI, and I am dedicated to making it one of the best in the country.
I am currently enrolled in Western Governors University (WGU) to complete my BSN and will use this scholarship to complete my degree. It is important for me to do this in order to make our fellowship a credible place to train. With a BSN, I will become a more rounded patient advocate.
I am learning community nursing at WGU, which has opened my eyes to different ways to help people. I have learned the needs and struggles of the residents of my community. As people say, knowledge is power. I feel that completing my BSN will enable me to continue on the path of helping my community.
I plan on holding a community fair to promote colon cancer screening and providing education on how to stop drinking alcohol. I discovered that we have a large population of residents with cirrhosis that at this time is underserved. I hope to learn more about my community in order to provide for their needs more effectively.
What is one of the proudest moments you’ve had thus far in your career and why?
The proudest moment of my career was obtaining my CGRN in October 2019. I had studied for the certification test for over six months. My dad, who was an internal medicine physician, was helping me. We lived about four hours apart, but I would drive there once a month to visit my parents. My dad and I would talk about endo. His birthday was on October 27, so I took the test on his birthday because I knew I would pass if I took it on that day. I called him that day to tell him I had passed, and he was so proud. I’m glad I had that time with my dad because he passed away suddenly the next weekend.
What is one thing you’ve learned about GI nursing that may help others with their own professional journeys?
The best advice I can give for nurses is to find what they’re passionate about doing and go for it. I have worked in a lot of different departments, both in hospitals and nursing homes. When I walked into endoscopy on day one, I fell in love. I discovered that I had a strong passion for the human GI system and wanted to learn everything I could about it. I scrubbed into a lot of different cases, from esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGDs) to colonoscopies to Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies (ERCPs) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). I tried to learn as much as I could from the physician who was performing the procedure, both about the anatomy and physiology and how to correct the issue through scoping the patient. This has been a tremendous help throughout my career in endoscopy.
Congratulations to the six SGNA members who are the 2021 Empowering GI Professional Diversity Scholarship recipients:
- Jay Lardizabal, MAN, RN, CGRN
- Yoamis Lopez, ST
- Muriel Moyo, MS, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, NE-BC
- Victoria Purpura, BBA, RN, CGRN
- Emily Salisbury, RN
- Jinghong Yu, RN-BC, CGRN