Kristine Barman

Q&A with Kristine Barman, SGNA President

April 07, 2017
by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor
The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates will hold its annual course May 7-9 in New Orleans. With the date fast approaching, HealthCare Business News reached out to President Kristine Barman to learn a little of her history in health care and about the latest news from the society.

HCB News: How did you get involved in health care?
I was interested in health care ever since I was a little girl. When I’d visit my grandparents on the upper peninsula of Michigan and my grandfather got a cut, he would come find me and say I was the best at putting on a Band-Aid. I loved taking care of him. Later, when I attended college, the two majors that didn’t require a foreign language were engineering and nursing, so that helped to direct things, too.

HCB News: How did you get involved with SGNA?
When I first started my career, I was working at a small community hospital in Florida when they opened a new department — endoscopy. They were looking for volunteers to staff the new department, and while it didn’t come with a pay raise, it did come with educational opportunities. A friend of mine invited me to join her at the local SGNA regional society meeting, which was the perfect place to get my education. I also found the networking to be invaluable.

HCB News: Why should others consider joining?
Joining SGNA is just so beneficial. You get so much back for every hour invested. It’s the best place to learn about best practices, and for me the annual meeting is like going to a family reunion.

HCB News: What have been the main initiatives you’ve championed as president?
The main message during my presidency is to invest in yourself and inspire others. When you invest in yourself professionally, you get so much in return for your practice and the greater GI nursing community. You also are able to share with others and “pay it forward” in terms of sparking passion in your colleagues. SGNA has always, and will continue to have, provided the resources to our members in order to be successful, and safe practitioners and patient advocates.

HCB News: What are the biggest challenges facing your members today?
One challenge is to stay current with technology advancements, and continue with training on new procedures and new accessories. We want to provide safe patient care and serve as patient advocates. It is important to be educated on how the new technologies will impact patients and what kind of complications we need to observe for. The GI community is doing things we never imagined we could do with a scope and it all definitely requires extra training to understand our roles and patient safety.

HCB News: What items top your members’ wish list?
Our members want to be informed on industry news and what is new in the GI community. SGNA promotes our scholars and fellows in research directed in the areas where our members need information to define and support their practice.

HCB News: Do you anticipate any big changes in the role SGNA plays in coming years?
I think SGNA will continue to be a voice and resource for GI nursing, and our role continues to grow. We’ve worked with partners including the CDC and FDA, which is making SGNA an even stronger advocate for our patients.

HCB News: Do you anticipate the repeal of the ACA will impact members, and if so, how?
Working in a large teaching institution, I personally didn’t notice a lot of change when the ACA was introduced, so I’m not sure how much impact the repeal would have for my workplace specifically. I think it is too early to tell in regard to the repeal, but SGNA will always support legislative efforts that increase access to screening and care. SGNA has been part of the initiative to have 80 percent of the population get screened by 2020.

HCB News: What’s your prediction for how the field of gastroenterology will change in the next 10 years?
I think that as technology advances, there may be different tests that will be less invasive. Probably some new diagnostic that can provide screening. It’s possible that we could have someone send in a stool sample and get it analyzed to let them know if they should take the next step and get a colonoscopy.

HCB News: There have been debates about screening turning up a lot of results that may not become cancerous if left untreated. Is that still a big topic?
The focus has shifted over the years. Today, we’re looking for flat polyps which are harder to find, but more likely to turn into cancer. Fortunately, our equipment has improved to better assist in finding these polyps.

HCB News: Are there enough gastroenterology professionals working today? Is that trending up or down?
We don’t have comprehensive data, but nursing has always interested those people attracted to caring. Today, not everyone plans to stay in the same career over the course of his or her life. People don’t hesitate to go back to school to acquire the knowledge they need to change careers. But even in our field, there are more mature students willing to make a career change into nursing.

HCB News: Are there any other developments you’d like to discuss?
It’s an exciting time in terms of gastroenterology. Many new technologies are being used. Our Infection Prevention Champions program is still evolving and improving in terms of releasing the newest information to our members. Our guidelines are being reviewed and updated. Our fellows and scholars programs and research are pointing us forward. SGNA will continue to serve nurses and practitioners not only in the hospital setting, but beyond in places like inflammatory bowel disease practices and ambulatory centers. We are a home to all GI professionals, and we are very proud to be GI.