A GI Technician Shares His Views
I recently received a letter to the editor that was a good reminder of how any topic can be seen from multiple angles. The following letter is from Antonio Vargas, who shared his thoughts regarding an article that ran in EndoNurse magazine earlier this year. Vargas studied at the school of medicine at Universidad Autonoma of Guadalajara, in Jalisco, Mexico, and now works as a GIT at a hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. Because of his unique experiences in the healthcare industry, Vargas sees a few issues a little bit differently than some of his colleagues. His letter is below.
"To the Editor:
I would like to share some of my thoughts regarding the article “The Time has Come: Certification for Flexible Endoscope Reprocessors," by Nancy Chobin, RN, AAS, ACSP, CSPDM, that appeared in a recent issue of EndoNurse.
I agree somewhat with the writer about her point of being certified. However, in the article she states that it should be mandatory because hospitals are entrusting personnel with sophisticated devices for patient care. 'Certification should be mandatory, she wrote.
Some of my GIT coworkers are nurses who have been doing this job for more than 17 years. They have great knowledge and experience in the field, yet they are not certified as gastroenterology technicians.
I work as a gastroenterology technician, I perform ERCPs, bronchoscopies, colonoscopies, endoscopies, and other procedures under the supervision of a gastroenterologist. Am I certified? No, yet I have an MD degree, and I am certified by the ECFMG to practice medicine and continue medical training in a residency program in whatever specialty I choose.
An important factor regarding certification is the job description. Sure, I would like to be certified only in ERCPs and spyglass, but the truth to the matter is that our job in the hospitals is to multitask. At the hospital where I work we have to know everything from reprocessing and maintenance of scopes, to policies, endoscopy instrumentation, and being able to assist doctors during endoscopic surgical procedures.
Certification should be optional in my opinion, since the hospital will train you to do the job either way. If you are not able to perform by the hospital's standards then you should not be there.
There are many gastroenterology technicians who are overqualified to do the job and they are not necessarily certified. If you want to specialize in a specific procedure, then yes, you should be certified.
Being a technician has its challenges. For instance, when you have to assist the doctor with an ERCP and you are busy trying to pass the instrument through the scope with one hand and with the other trying to hold the patient still and keep him/her safe throughout the whole procedure. (Personally, I think all ERCPs should be done under general anesthesia.)
The job of a gastroenterology technician is not easy, but the satisfaction you get when you know you did something to help improve a patient's quality of life is a big reward.
Thank you for the opportunity to tell my humble story.
Antonio Vargas, MD"
What do you think of these opinions, and Chobin's? Feel free to leave a comment below, or to send a letter to the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.