The Pulse | Friday, July 15, 2022
Spotlight On Jean M. Stoa, Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Earlier this year, SGNA honored Jean M. Stoa, RN, and her dedication to gastroenterology nursing with the Distinguished Service Award. We spoke with her about the many ways in which involvement in the association has supported her professional development.
This award acknowledges an SGNA member who has demonstrated service and leadership to the organization. Why do you believe it’s important to give back in this way?
I believe that it is important to share knowledge, expertise and experience with others. Throughout our entire lives, we are learning from parents, teachers, friends and professional colleagues.
I have been very fortunate to be mentored by amazing SGNA leaders who shared their knowledge and experiences. During that process, they helped me realize that I have plenty to give back to my GI community as well. By sharing, we are actively working with other SGNA members to create and change the course of our professional organization.
Looking back on your time with SGNA, what moments stand out? How has your involvement with the organization helped in your professional development?
As I look back over the many years of my membership in SGNA, I think about the first national course that I attended. I walked into the auditorium and was shocked and amazed by all of the other people in the room. I had no idea that so many other nurses and associates could be as fascinated by gastroenterology as myself, and that they hungered for more knowledge!
I also think about my first Regional Board meeting, where I nervously hoped that I would not embarrass myself. I wanted to help, but had absolutely no idea all the time, effort, work and dedication it takes for a Regional Board to ensure the survival of its region. I think about being asked to chair the Regional Societies Committee and once again hoping that I could meet the challenge and not let down SGNA.
As I think about all of these moments, the common thread is that I was not alone. I had support every step of the way. I learned early on that if you have a question, there is an SGNA leader, member or staff representative who can help you navigate your way. There is always someone willing to guide you, direct you and to keep you from failing.
The memories that I have all surround the people that I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with along the journey. I try and remember this key point as I navigate my professional career. I seek mentors and other leaders to guide me when I am struggling or requesting feedback. It is important to look at things from many sides and different viewpoints. I value the input and thoughts that other people have bestowed upon me.
What does receiving this award mean to you?
It is truly difficult to put into words all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that this award brings. First, I am still in shock that I received the award. I think about all the fellow SGNA members and leaders that I know are just as deserving. I think about all the opportunities and experiences that I have been given as an SGNA member, Regional Leader and Regional Societies Committee Chair. It is extremely meaningful to know that I have made an impact within SGNA and that I have assisted in keeping this community alive and strong. The organization means so much to me and has been such a big part of my life for many years. I am always so proud to tell people that I am a member of SGNA and to explain our mission.
What is your advice for the next generation of GI nurses and associates?
I have often been asked by non-SGNA members, “What is SGNA going to do for me? What am I going to get out of being a member of SGNA?” I would like the next generation of GI nurses and associates to focus more on what they can bring to the GI Profession and SGNA!
There are so many levels of participation and countless opportunities available to every member. We can attend educational offerings, sharing our newly found knowledge and skills with staff members in our units. We can volunteer at the local and national level. We all have the potential to give a piece of ourselves to SGNA.
I have learned that the most rewarding experiences are not when I have received something, but when I have given or shared something of myself. As healthcare providers, we are consistently giving back to our patients. We also have to remember to give back to each other as professional GI nurses and associates. This allows us to grow professionally and connect on a different level. We strengthen our work units and our profession. SGNA membership allows all of us to share our expertise and make an impact to create better care and experiences for our patients!