Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Editorial Free

A Constant Learning Process: How Our Work Impacts Editors, Readers, Clinicians, and Scientists

Donna M. Fick, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN

One of my greatest joys of being a journal editor and nurse scientist and clinician is that I strive to see that the work we conduct and publish makes a difference in practice and our community and world. To do this, I am constantly learning. I am grateful that I am in a field (i.e., the care of older adults and cognitive health) in which knowledge is always evolving and so much has yet to be discovered. In this month's editorial, I thought I would share two ways in which I was privileged to constantly learn and think about how the Journal of Gerontological Nursing (JGN) makes an impact.

First, I attended the 2018 International Academy of Nurse Editors (INANE) meeting held in Boston, Massachusetts. INANE (n.d.) is:

an international collaborative—a collective of nursing editors and publishers focused on meeting the practice, research and education needs of the nursing profession. Established in 1982, the group has organized an annual conference every year since—all without a formal organizational structure. Our primary mission is to promote best practices in publishing and high standards in the nursing literature. (para. 1)

I have attended only a few meetings since becoming editor of JGN, but every year I come away full of new knowledge and ideas. The conference had too many highlights to share in a short editorial, but I will discuss a few to give you a sense of the meeting.

Opening night was a gala with a special guest, poet Richard Blanco, who was the fifth poet to read at a U.S. presidential inauguration, having read for Barack Obama's second inauguration. I have always loved poetry and believe reading makes us better writers. Blanco is an engineer and a poet; therefore, in addition to reading his poems, he talked about the importance of breaking out of our silos in education and the importance of being able to tell a story and communicate well as an engineer. I think this is also true in nursing and health care. Much of Blanco's work is about a sense of place and home. One of my favorite poems he read was, “Looking for the Gulf Motel” (Blanco, 2012). He also conveyed the importance of art in health care.

The other fabulous keynote speaker was Patricia Flatley Brennan, PhD, RN, FAAN, Director of the National Library of Medicine (yes, a nurse director!). I learned so much in this talk and was challenged to think about the future of publishing and dissemination in science and health care. Brennan challenged us by asking: “What will the article of 2020 look like?” She then discussed team science, innovation in how we communicate, new forms of communication in our journals (e.g., videos, podcasts), the structure of PubMed, the impact of globalization on dissemination, artificial intelligence, linking datasets with publications, the need to move health to a conversation, improved knowledge synthesis tools, and more. After this talk, I was struck head-on with the desire to attend every year and the thrill of constantly learning. I also attended many excellent smaller talks on editorial boards, peer review, and social media.

I encourage you to visit the INANE website for blogs and resource pages (access Links to excellent resources are available, including the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), which provides resources for ethical and legal issues in publishing and can also be used to teach students about publishing ethics. I also learned at this meeting that you do not have to be an editor to join and attend the conferences. I met several participants who were reviewers and others who wanted to learn more about writing and publishing and were not affiliated with a journal or publisher. The next meeting is July 30 to August 1, 2019, in Reno, Nevada.

Second, Cabells (access recently requested an impact statement and updated information about JGN for their Whitelist. The Whitelist is an independent, curated database of scholarly journals that guides researchers, publishers, librarians, academics, and administrators to reputable outlets for publication. I am sharing some of my thoughts on our impact, but I would love to hear from our readers (via a Letter to the Editor or e-mail []) as to your thoughts regarding JGN's impact and any suggestions for improvement.

For more than 40 years, JGN, a monthly, peer-reviewed journal, has published clinically relevant original articles on the practice of gerontological nursing across the continuum of care in a variety of health care settings. JGN is used for gerontological evidence and best practice examples by clinicians, educators, students, health care administrators, and consumers. In addition to feature articles, JGN has four sections—Geropharmacology, Person-Centered Care, Public Policy, and Technology Innovation—and an Evidence-Based Practice Guideline. JGN also has an affiliation and column with the American Geriatrics Society, a nationwide not-for-profit society of geriatrics health care professionals with more than 6,000 members, which provides leadership to health care professionals in geriatrics.

JGN has impacted the health care community and nursing profession in multiple ways by influencing practice, policy, and research. One example is a policy editorial on the important and controversial issue of placing older adults on observation status in the hospital setting and how it impacts care and costs (Kolanowski & Edelman, 2012). Patients are often admitted under observation status when their diagnosis is uncertain, or the severity of the condition is unknown, and, unfortunately, this impacts their ability to obtain rehabilitation post-discharge. This issue has received increased attention in the policy arena since the editorial was written.

Another example is an editorial, “The Power of Words” (Fick, 2016) that was used at Yale University to train students and residents to think about stigma and the use of language and person-centered care when caring for individuals with diabetes and disabilities (Jennifer Sherr, MD, PhD, personal communication, May 25, 2017). A third example is the Geropharmacology section, led by a nationally known pharmacist, which publishes leading data-based articles on deprescribing and medication management. These articles are used to train students and guide research and practice.

Finally, the week of September 10 to 15, 2018, we celebrated Peer Review Week ( with 1 week of gratitude and opportunities to learn more about peer review and attend webinars on enhancing diversity in peer review. I am grateful for our peer reviewers for JGN and constantly awed by the work and expertise that our editorial board members and reviewers provide to assure quality reviews and improve the quality of our journal. I encourage you to mentor new reviewers, as mentoring is the best way to learn how to write well and become a better reviewer and researcher. Peer review is a forum for constant learning.

In summary, JGN has innovative sections and feature articles that have an impact on the health of our nation. JGN is one of only a few journals in the United States and the world to have its own section on person-centered care, with one article in this section having addressed the national priorities for Alzheimer's disease from the perspective of older adults and caregivers (Porock et al., 2015). These evidence-based guidelines and articles are used in practice settings to teach nursing students and guide clinical practice and research in health care systems. Thank you to all our readers, reviewers, and the team at SLACK Incorporated who make our journal better every year.

Donna M. Fick, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN



  • Blanco, R. (2012). Looking for the gulf motel. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt5hjqzw [CrossRef]
  • International Association of Nurse Editors. (n.d.). About INANE. Retrieved from
  • Kolanowski, A.M. & Edelman, T.S. (2012). Observation status on trial. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 38(3), 3–4. doi:10.3928/00989134-20120207-04 [CrossRef]
  • Porock, D., Bakk, L., Sullivan, S.S., Love, K., Pinkowitz, J. & Barsness, S. (2015). National priorities for dementia care: Perspectives of individuals living with dementia and their care partners. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 41(8), 9–16. doi:10.3928/00989134-20150710-02 [CrossRef]

The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.


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