Research in Gerontological Nursing

Editorial Free

The Inflection Point: Increased Urgency for High Impact Gerontological Nursing Research

Heather M. Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA

It is my great honor to assume editorship for Research in Gerontological Nursing (RGN), with the opportunity to build on the strong foundation developed and nurtured by my predecessors, Christine R. Kovach, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, and Kathleen “Kitty” C. Buckwalter, PhD, RN, FAAN; the highly skilled and committed editorial team at SLACK Incorporated; and the dedicated Editorial Board. As a member of the Editorial Board since inception, I am proud of the journal's successes and excited to continue to grow this community of scientists committed to advancing health and improving care for older adults.

RGN was founded in 2008 with an aim articulated by Dr. Buckwalter to “disseminate peer-reviewed, cutting edge, interdisciplinary gerontological research to educators, clinicians, researchers, policy makers, and interested others who are dedicated to improving the well-being of older adults in all health care and community-based settings through research” (Buckwalter, 2008, p. 3). Its launch coincided with extensive investment in growing the next generation of gerontological nurse scientists and educators through the John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Program (Fagin, 2012), many of whom have published their work in RGN. When Dr. Kovach became editor in 2012, she reaffirmed the founding aim and added, “it is my hope that readers and authors will consider RGN the place to find and publish the cutting-edge and high-quality intervention studies we desperately need” (Kovach, 2012, p. 3). Both Editors Buckwalter and Kovach set a high and inclusive bar and established a strong forum for intellectual exchange. I am deeply appreciative of their leadership, vision, and friendship.

Early in my career, I would cite the looming demographics of the aging of society as the reason to care about my research findings as I submitted manuscripts for peer review. I would set my sights on the year 2030, ringing the alarms that we needed more knowledge and more capacity to address (1) the growing heterogeneity of older adults, with three generations older than age 65 with a wide range of priorities, strengths, and abilities; (2) the growing diversity of the aging population, with increases in the proportion of Latinx, African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, and LGBTQ older adults; and (3) the invisible family workforce of caregivers who provide the majority of long-term care for older adults (Young, 2003). We are approaching 2030 and the urgency on these fronts is even greater now and has been amplified by the triple pandemic of COVID-19, racism, and ageism (Booker et al., 2020). Intersectionality as compounded social forces and multiple social identities (Crenshaw, 2017) is further contributing to the inequitable effects of the pandemic.

Gerontological research is critical now. We need new solutions to old problems as well as innovation to solve emerging challenges. The pandemic has revealed health inequities and systemic racism. The pandemic has also prompted a faster pace of change and invention, as communities, health systems, and academic settings respond to new demands. Our communities and health systems are at a point of inflection or “a mental or moral bending or turning” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2020), and this inflection serves as a launching place for the next generation of gerontological nursing research. Our collective work addresses a full range of pertinent topics, from the mental and physical health of older adults, to family care, to programmatic approaches and health care system innovation, to societal and policy issues. We can and we must contribute to evidence-based solutions at all levels.

RGN has always published cutting edge research foundational to advancing the health and well-being of older adults, and I hope to continue this momentum. I am enthusiastic about the potential of gerontological research to generate new knowledge that advances health in the context of the inflection point. I want to prioritize manuscripts that advance our understanding of evolving phenomena and solutions to emerging challenges. I am interested in perspectives on how our theoretical frameworks and assumptions perpetuate structural racism and research based on models that authentically capture the experience and priorities of diverse racial/ethnic and cultural communities of older adults. The problems we face are complex, and I want to feature articles that cast the collaborative net widely to include scientific perspectives that can enhance our research and broaden our impact, tapping expertise in social justice, systems engineering and technology, public health, communications, and policy, to name a few. Finally, it is timely to publish work that takes our innovations to the next level, applying implementation science to translate research into sustainable practice, systems change, and policy.

I am eager to hear your thoughts about how RGN can advance the field of gerontological nursing research and in so doing, promote health equity and well-being among diverse communities of older adults and those who care for them. I am confident that with our Editorial Board and staff in conjunction with our community of scholars, we will evolve, gain strength, and leave a lasting impact up to and after 2030. I look forward to working with you in publishing high-quality and high-impact research. I thank you for your commitment to the field of gerontological nursing and wish you and yours well during these challenging times.

Heather M. Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA


  • Booker, S., Cousin, L. & Buck, H. G. (2020). Surviving multiple pandemics—COVID-19 and racism for African American older adults: A call to gerontological nursing for social justice. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 46(9), 4–6 doi:10.3928/00989134-20200811-01 [CrossRef] PMID:32845341
  • Buckwalter, K. C. (2008). Welcome to research in gerontological nursing. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 1(1), 3 doi:10.3928/19404921-20080101-05 [CrossRef] PMID:22269226
  • Crenshaw, K. W. (2017). On intersectionality: Essential writings. The New Press.
  • Fagin, C. M. (2012). Celebrating 10 years of geriatric nursing through the BAGNC program. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 5(1), 4–5 doi:10.3928/19404921-20111206-01 [CrossRef] PMID:22269227
  • Kovach, C. R. (2012). Advancing science and improving outcomes. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 5(2), 80–81 doi:10.3928/19404921-20120307-01 [CrossRef] PMID:22515374
  • Oxford English Dictionary. (2020). Definition of inflection (figurative).
  • Young, H. M. (2003). Challenges and solutions for care of frail older adults. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 8(2), 5 PMID:12795634

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


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