The Pulse | Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Celebrating the 2022 Empowering Diversity in the GI Profession Scholarship Recipients
Earlier this year, SGNA awarded seven individuals the Empowering Diversity in the GI Profession Scholarship. We sat down with just a few recipients to learn what inspired them to enter GI, how the SGNA community has made an impact in their career and tips for young and aspiring GI professionals.
What inspires you to become a GI professional or further advance your career?
Kelly Johnson (KJ): I'll be honest that I came into GI nursing not truly knowing what it was all about. I knew I wanted to do something procedural and this opportunity presented itself. I've always been passionate about primary and preventive care and focusing on population health.
Eight years into GI, I've seen our practice change significantly, from supplies, to procedure types and physical environment of care. My passion and focus is connecting patients to care and using our electronic medical records to achieve this feat. I decided to purse my Master's in Health Informatics in order to help connect patients in a more efficient manner, while making sure the care provided utilizes resources to the best of our ability. It’s almost the integration of business planning, analytics and preventive wellness needs combined into one, and I love the challenges this field presents. My ultimate goal is to help create predictive programming that can flag patients who are most at risk for early onset colorectal cancers, in order to provide education and care before a late stage colorectal cancer diagnosis.
Elizah Centeno (EC): Learning and achieving more is what inspired me to go back to school. I feel like I can do more for my community and there was a personal need to further my professional growth.
Cristina Valentino (CV): In all transparency, I transferred from critical care nursing to endoscopy a little over a year ago after being burnt out in the intensive care unit during the pandemic. What I did not expect was how much GI would teach and captivate me.
I have learned so much about GI disease processes and the endoscopic treatments available. Also, the interactions I've had with patients dealing with GI issues has rekindled my love of nursing and for serving others. This profession has inspired me to return to school to obtain my Master's in Nursing and Nurse Practitioner Certification.
Mary Yeboah (MY): My passion for the GI nursing profession stems from my own personal experience of seeing those close to me suffer from GI medical conditions. This made me develop a profound passion for the GI profession, where I continuously challenge myself to seek out new knowledge.
How has the SGNA community made an impact on you?
KJ: The SGNA community has encouraged me to reach out and ask others for their insights and help. We've made some big leaps in the types of procedures we offer at our facility and the equipment we use, and I frequently ask other members for their experiences. The SGNA Communities page is a great way to see what is impacting other GI labs and what could potentially impact yours.
I love the webinars and have participated in many over my years. I've also enjoyed going to my Central Illinois SGNA conference a few times. I hope to make it to national conference as I was unable to attend in person in 2020! The gift of scholarship to help me advance my career and my impact on our field is one that I will never forget. I am grateful that others have hope in my visions of GI nursing!
EC: SGNA has opened a lot of opportunities for me. I have been a member for seven years, and every time I attend the SGNA conferences I learn so much. It's not only the learning and the education, but I’m also able to reach out to other SGNA members and learn from them.
CV: I really enjoy discussions in the SGNA Communities. Having a place where we can bring questions and have discussions about professional practice is amazing. It's good to see what challenges or concerns other GI professionals are experiencing. Even if it’s not applicable to me in the moment, it is a resource. Of course, the most impactful is the scholarship I was awarded towards tuition fees — I'm eternally grateful to the SGNA.
MY: The SGNA community has exposed me to so many resources, knowledge and professional advice from those in the GI profession. As a student nurse, SGNA has become my family. The SGNA community makes me feel supported and connected to the GI profession whenever I read new articles on the SGNA website about the GI field. The SGNA community also has various supporting resources and leadership scholarships that support students' education.
Do you have any tips you'd like to share with aspiring GI professionals and students?
KJ: Share your joy and your passions! Nursing and tech schools don't often highlight the amazing work we do day in and day out. Show future GI professionals how interesting our work is by sharing experiences and stories. Now more than ever, our specialty depends on dedicated professionals who are curious, creative and passionate about what they do — fuel that fire!
My other tip is don't stress about trying to be the best. A good team is made up of a lot of people who may be "the best" in one area, and that's why procedures aren't done solo. Find what you like and work toward improvement, but don't compare yourselves to others. We all have room for growth and we all can't be the best at everything.
EC: Don't stop learning. There's always something new to learn or other ways to improve our practice.
CV: Speak up. A closed mouth doesn't get fed (unless you have a feeding tube — bad GI humor). In all seriousness, if you don't ask, you won't know if you’re missing an opportunity to learn, network or inspire change. The worst that could happen is you're told "no" — but you'll never know if you don't ask.
MY: The SGNA community is resourceful and engages new audiences and members about ongoing topics in the GI field. There is so much to learn and contribute as one interacts with the network of professionals here!
Congrats to this year’s class of Empowering Diversity in the GI Profession Scholarship recipients!