The Pulse | Tuesday, November 6, 2018
A Career of Distinguished Service
Featuring Chris Sarisley, SGNA 2018 Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Each year, SGNA seeks to recognize its members who have demonstrated a dedication to the advancement of gastroenterology, as well as SGNA. In 2018, Christine (Chris) Sarisley, MS APRN ACNS-BC CGRN, received the Distinguished Service Award, which honors her significant contributions to SGNA’s regional and national activities.
Chris has been active in SGNA Connecticut (CT SGNA) since 1999 and was one of three GI nurses who helped to develop the CT SGNA ERCP hands-on workshop, now in its 17th year. We spoke with her to learn what drives her passion for education and mentoring, as well as advice to those seeking to gain leadership roles.
SGNA is preparing for its 2019 awards. Nominations are due Friday, Nov. 30. If you know someone who should be recognized, learn how to nominate them here.
SGNA: You are a mentor, educator and leader within the society – what drives you to give back in this way? Why are you passionate about education and mentoring?
Chris Sarisley: Becoming a member of SGNA at both the Regional and National level has become a way of life. Spending 20 years attending meetings and engaging with like-minded colleagues inspires me to move forward. Hearing ideas, planning and making them become a reality and the satisfaction of a job well done is so rewarding. Being able to become part of something bigger than yourself has been very gratifying.
Over the years, education and mentoring have driven me to share a solid foundation – from learning ERCP, coordinating programs large and small, writing contact hours and serving on the Regional Board. When I began working in GI, belonging to the Connecticut Region allowed me to build clinical knowledge and get comfortable in my own skin. I learned about the accessory tools, products, and standards relevant to the practice. I used the state meetings to not only earn contact hours, network and learn, but to bring back this education and experience to my endoscopy department.
I had not only learned more than a hospital orientation provided, but also gained the confidence in knowing that my knowledge base was beyond average.
While raising my little ones, I was able to still be a leader in setting up in-services in the department, develop competencies and participate in many training programs. Because I had learned so much through attending educational meetings in Connecticut, I put all that I had learned into writing and formalized it to set the stage for becoming a leader at work. This was done even though initially I was part-time. I had not only learned more than a hospital orientation provided, but also gained the confidence in knowing that my knowledge base was beyond average. Regardless of your background, you can always use your past experiences, clinical experiences and knowledge base to enhance your contributions to GI. Having come from an emergency department background, zeroing in on GI allowed me to take giant steps forward and have success.
SGNA: You joined SGNA 20 years ago – looking back, how has your involvement aided in your professional development?
CS: The opportunities in Connecticut and with SGNA National have opened the door to working on committees and learning about practices across the country. Initially, I learned about practices in the state from surrounding hospitals and endoscopy centers. Understanding the variances in equipment, staffing and practice was appreciated. I was never limited to knowing only what my own hospital did as far as caring for patients. Connecticut SGNA (CTSGNA) had become a center of ideas and information sharing. After a few years of gaining a solid clinical backdrop, including learning advanced therapeutic procedures and practices, I had the confidence to join National Committees, the GNJ Editorial Board and became active in serving as a contributor in publications.
As my confidence grew, I contributed as an individual in writing publications and served as a National Instructor for the GI Nurse Review Course, teaching around the country. These opportunities arose gradually, slowly and fell into place at a comfortable pace. You are perceived as a leader when you have had success at work with patients and outside of work affecting practice from a professional organization's perspective.
SGNA: What does receiving this award mean to you?
CS: Receiving this award has made me realize that I have been in GI a very long time! It also allows me to step back and realize that when you are caring for GI patients you can work in many different settings. For example, you can not only work in endoscopy, but with GI patients in any medical setting. Your case load in overseeing admissions can be heavily influenced by patients with multiple GI issues. GI is not a total standalone specialty. There are many medical problems whose treatment plans are altered because of a patient's GI history and background.
It is also important to understand that you can influence patient care indirectly through teaching, mentoring and developing policy and practice. Nursing is no longer limited to practicing within a box.
Lastly, it is important to know that once you have built an initial foundation for understanding the general care of GI patients, your job will never be over. Certification and continued life-long learning will always bring you full circle.
It is also important to understand that you can influence patient care indirectly through teaching, mentoring and developing policy and practice.
SGNA: What are some of the values you hold that you believe led you to this award?
CS: I believe that involvement with SGNA at the regional and national levels are key to discovering what opportunities are out there to learn from. Attending meetings, regional and national programs, getting certified, attaining contact hours, talking to exhibitors, networking with colleagues, sharing ideas and participating in projects opens the door to not only cutting edge practices, but to a place of opening more doors. Challenges to get involved will surface and it is up to you to take a risk, join up and put your heart into it.
SGNA: What is your advice for other SGNA members who aspire to grow into leadership roles?
CS: Start by joining your regional association. Try to attend dinner meetings or a host meeting. Get comfortable with what SGNA is about, offer to host a meeting at your facility and seek out the educational resource in your facility to get contact hours approved. You can learn how to coordinate the program, and work out details for publicity, parking and refreshments with your regional leaders. You will also be gaining the respect of your workplace colleagues in taking the lead, and you can include them in helping you.
Attending your regional programs is another way to build your knowledge base and develop a goal to get certified. From there, you can continue to get involved to volunteer at committees, including the GI Audit Committee, Program Committee or any of the national committees available at SGNA.
The SGNA website (sgna.org) is full of information for you to see what kinds of activities are happening, and what might be a fit for you. You can achieve great things, but you have to be willing to volunteer your time to get there. It is easy to do once you make up your mind to go for it!
Do you know someone like Chris who has made significant contributions to SGNA’s regional and national activities? Nominate them for the SGNA Distinguished Service Award here by Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.
Learn more about Chris’s accomplishments in this video announcing her as the 2018 Distinguished Service Award Recipient.