During a recent work experience in Sweden, I became increasingly aware of the importance of having easy access to the professional literature. I became aware, too, of the extent to which we take for granted not only such accessibility, but also the very existence of the literature.
Swedish nurses, most of whom use English as a second language, have access to a relatively limited amount of professional literature in their native language. Consequently, they make considerable use of, and valuable contributions to, the foreign (mainly English language) professional literature. The fact that Swedish is understood by a small number of nurses internationally contributes to nurses from that country making full use of English language publications. Another contributing factor is that the Swedish nursing profession recognizes the importance of learning from, and adding to, the internationalization of nursing.
Nurses in some countries, such as the United States and Great Britain, face a different (although equally evident) issue to that of our Swedish colleagues. Both of our countries produce a large volume of nursing literature, which may tempt us to believe that it is unnecessary to locate and make use of 'foreign' publications. Indeed, some years ago it was possible to read the entire content of a nursing journal and find no reference to the literature without the journal's country of origin. Happily, this is now rarely the case.
As a regular reviewer with the JOURNAL OF GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING, and the first overseas member of its editorial panel, I am acutely aware of the need to make full use of the international literature relating to the care of the elderly. Such is the volume of the English language nursing literature, and the practical sophistication of the library techniques which give us access to it, that we are now literally free to make use of a 'world' of published material. In due course, we may also begin to make more use of material in languages other than our own.
I continue to enjoy, and learn from, the manuscripts I review and the articles which are published in the JOURNAL OF GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING. Those articles which are particularly informative are created by writers who have a good understanding of the national and international literature from nursing and related disciplines. This approach to contributing to the gerontological nursing literature maximizes the extent to which the writer positively influences the quality of care given to the elderly. There is little doubt that a key feature of a profession is the extent to which it has developed its own literature and, more importantly the manner in which members of that profession learn from (and contribute to) that literature.
During the past 20 or more years, much progress has been made in the creation of meaningful nursing literature. This progress has resulted from full commercial/professional cooperation between the publishing houses, and our profession.
We are, indeed, fortunate to be part of a profession which has such a rich literature that has been produced and used by a wide cross-section of our number. The importance of that literature, and those who produce and read it, is difficult to overemphasize. In particular, literary contributions of clinicians who specialize in the care of the elderly play a key role in gerontological care development.