The year was 1983… Cabbage Patch dolls and compact discs were introduced , “Just Say No” was the new catch phrase for combating drug use, and Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. In Maine, 11 year-old Samantha Smith was invited to the Soviet Union and the last hand-cranked telephones in the US went out of service as 440 telephone customers in Bryant Pond were switched over to direct dial. And in Portland… four endoscopy nurses completed the application process to charter the Maine Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.
Liz Davy remembers,
“We (Jan Campana, Nancy Wilson, Edie McCormick and myself) would meet in the Endo unit at Maine Medical Center after work to develop the MSGNA. We felt so strongly about it because we were attending meetings in the Boston area. The meetings were held on a weekday evening and we would get home very late and at least two of us would have to work that same morning!! “.
In the beginning, the founding members, Edie McCormick, Nancy Wilson, Jan Campana, and Liz Davy worked to increase membership in the fledging society. From the Board of Directors meeting minutes, it is evident that one of the greatest concerns was just that …the Board of Directors. Frequently, MSGNA presidents served consecutive terms as no one volunteered for the board. A newsletter, the Endogram, was developed and the President-Elect served as editor. The Endogram kept the members abreast of MSGNA’s current activities and future goals. By 1989, the dues were fifteen dollars, the treasury contained $2020.22 and membership was in the double digits.
1990 – 1999
The 1990’s brought a steady growth in the membership of MSGNA. By the end of the decade, there were 36 members. Dues increased to sixty dollars and, by 1999, the treasury contained almost fourteen thousand dollars. However, the Board of Directors still faced the problem of finding members to volunteer for the board and presidents continued to serve consecutive terms. Our goal of educating the membership was accomplished through conferences held at various member facilities. At the Spring Conference in 1998, the founding members were honored as we celebrated fifteen years as an organization. On the national level, SGNA held its first Leadership Conference meeting and Jan Hayward was sent to represent MSGNA. As the nineties drew to a close, we defined ourselves with our logo, a map of Maine emblazoned with MSGNA. Our mission to advance the science and practice of gastroenterology nursing was firmly in place guided by a membership in whom professionalism was a standard not an expectation.
2000 – Present
The new millennium has seen our membership double and MSGNA remains committed to its members and the communities they serve.
Raising awareness of colorectal cancer remains a priority. In 2004, MSGNA had buttons made with the message: “Screening Colonoscopy Saves Lives. Have You Had Yours?” that were distributed in communities throughout Maine by the MSGNA membership. In addition, colorectal cancer awareness posters were displayed in physician offices statewide. On a local level, our members continue to be involved with colorectal cancer awareness programs in their facilities and communities. Jan Bryer, Liz Davey and members from the Portland Endoscopy Center and Mercy Hospital used the Colossal Colon event at the Maine Mall in Portland  to educate the public about colon health and the risk of developing colorectal cancer. MSGNA’s focus regarding colorectal cancer remains clear: education and prevention.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to display and distribute information, educate folks and share the importance of colon cancer screening as a means to prevent colon cancer. It was informative and fun!”…. Jan Bryer
Our commitment to membership education continues. The years 2000 and 2001 saw MSGNA participate in two multiregional conferences in New York at Turningstone Casino and Lake George. In 2003, an education committee was formed, chaired by Janet Fogg with members Diane Setchell and Rose Marie Powers. An education reimbursement program, “Regional Bucks” was started. Members would receive fifteen dollars in “Regional Bucks” by joining or renewing membership in MSGNA. Members could also earn them by speaking at seminars, writing an article for the Endogram or recruiting new members. Regional Bucks could then be used to defray conference costs at SGNA or MSGNA events. In addition, they could be used to purchase SGNA merchandise or raffle tickets at MSGNA seminars. Unfortunately, the program proved difficult to manage and was dropped. Today, members apply online at MaineSGNA.org for an SGNA Annual Course fee rebate.
Our members actively involve themselves in research. Jan Hayward and Cindy Tiemann hope their individual research studies will be used to improve the practice of gastroenterology nursing and care of the patient experiencing digestive disease.
MSGNA continues to advocate for its members and promote collaboration with other professional groups. In 2007, the MSGNA Board of Directors was able to offer associate memberships in the Maine Gastroenterology Society at a reduced rate to members. This collaboration will provide greater educational opportunities and greater understanding between the two groups of their respective roles in the practice of gastroenterology.
Like MSGNA, the certification of GI nurses and associates had its beginning in the early 1980s with the first exam being administered in 1986. MSGNA believes professional development to be a top priority for today’s GI nurses and associates. Understanding the monetary commitment made by members seeking certification, a certification rebate was instituted in 2007. Now, in our twenty-fifth year as a regional society, over 50% of MSGNA members are certified in the field of gastroenterology.
In 2007, the MSGNA membership voted to discontinue the Endogram newsletter. An era had passed. In the last edition, past editors including Marcia Bouchard and Kathy Maguire were thanked for their contributions and hard work and our new communication tool, the MSGNA website… www.mainesgna.org… was introduced.
“The website was a lot of fun to develop and I look forward to its continued evolvement as a communication tool for the MSGNA membership…” Cindy Tiemann
People, places and practices have changed over the years in MSGNA; however, our past serves as a benchmark for our future. As a regional SGNA society, we will continue to advance the science and practice of gastroenterology and endoscopy nursing through education, research, advocacy, and collaboration, and promote the professional development of our members in an atmosphere of mutual support. We have moved into the 21st century, but in many ways, we are still the same GI nurses caring for patients, caring for communities, caring for our state.
In the new millenium, the Maine Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates will continue “to light the way to GI excellence”.