Special Focus: President's Regional Society

The History of INSGNA


Terry Karwowski, BSN RN CGRN

September, 1995


When many of us in Indiana began working in our respective endoscopy units (or should I say closets, back rooms, usually "hole in the wall" departments or just behind some curtain in somebody else's unit), we just did what we were told or what felt right. We had no one to learn from and no other role models. We read our equipment manuals, took our doctor's word as, "that is how you do it," and did our best. There was no networking. We just took it for granted that things were OK. We knew that other hospitals did endoscopy, but didn't know much about them. All of us had many questions but no real authority to answer them. Some of us had heard of a national organization of GI Assistants, a few of us had even been to a meeting or two, but we were not active.


Because there were so many questions, our new Olympus representative, Rick Anderson, decided to try to get us together for introductions. In April 1979, he contacted all the hospitals in Indianapolis and invited us to a small reception that he hosted at a local restaurant for "Happy Hour." And it was! It was very exciting to get together with other nurses and assistants that dealt with the same kind of problems. Just getting us together was all that was needed. The Indiana Gastrointestinal Assistants Organization was born that evening!


Several nurses from around the state attended the SGA meeting in New Orleans that year. During that time, we made a commitment to build a group that not only could network with one another, but could provide education for those interested.


It was not easy at first, but over the summer a few very persistent nurses from Community Hospital in Indianapolis and St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove started putting together our first educational program. It was held on September 28, 1979 at Community Hospital in Indianapolis. There was no fee, and there was not any pre-registration. We were ecstatic with our turnout. We had approximately 25 attendees and opened our membership to the newly organized IGIA at the cost of $5 per year. Since then, we've held an educational seminar each spring and fall. At first, it was the same few that did all of the organization and meetings.


In 1982, it was decided that if we were to grow and prosper we needed to function as a true organization. That year we held our first election of officers, wrote our first set of bylaws, and published our first newsletter entitled, In the Scope of Things. An artist was commissioned to draw our logo of a covered bridge, which are commonplace in rural Indiana.


In May 1985, Indiana was one of six regions that received their Charter from SGA. Our name changed from Indiana Gastrointestinal Assistants to Indiana Society of Gastrointestinal Assistants (ISGA). We continued to grow, holding our educational meetings twice a year with at least 75 assistants attending, and membership was over 100 members. Many of us began to be more involved in the SGA, doing more than just going to the meeting during Digestive Disease Week. Our name changed again to Indiana Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (INSGNA) in 1990 when our national organization updated their name and goals.


To stay current and progressive, the Indiana goals are frequently reviewed and our bylaws are updated as needed. In 1992, our acronym changed from ISGNA to INSGNA to separate Indiana from other "I" states. Indiana currently has 95 members – 55 of those are certified!


Our organization feels very strongly about education. The INSGNA provides scholarships to our national meetings, as well as keeping the costs of our biannual educational meetings low to encourage attendance. Local chapters all over the state have been organized to provide short evening lectures and educational offerings every month, called Journal Clubs. Indiana is one of the regions that has helped organize a multi-state meeting, Covering the GI Bridges.