1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR

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I've spent a lot of time discussing the importance of clinical nurses having a network of colleagues from other institutions, other hospitals, other agencies, and other schools. Allowing ourselves to be open to new ways of thinking keeps us fresh, current, and alive as professionals. That's one of the reasons it's good when new people from different places come to work with us. We learn how things are done elsewhere, and if we're smart, we question our own practices. It's also crucial that we get out and away from our usual work settings occasionally and attend regional and national conferences. Those meetings invariably present us with new ideas and test our current knowledge. I hope that all of you who read MCN attend at least one national conference each year. You'll be shocked and amazed at how much you learn, at the new ideas you return with, and at the inspiration you can gain from hearing about the magnificent things nurses are doing in their practice. I know you read journals (at least this one!), so you're obviously interested in learning. I want to challenge each of you to attend a conference in your specialty within the next year, and to make it one in which nurses from throughout the country meet. Why not make plans to attend your specialty organization's conference? Insist that your institution fund each nurse to attend a national conference at least every other year. Attendance at these meetings benefits the institution in innumerable ways, for nurses return awake and alert, and ready to teach others what they've learned.


I had a conference experience recently in which I really learned a lot. I was asked to speak at an international conference of nurses at the Ninth International Maternity Researchers Conference. What a privilege it was to meet and interact with nurses from all over the world! I kept thinking of MCN 's readers while I was there. I've been making a real effort to include many cross-cultural articles in MCN over the past few years because nurses tell me how important it is for them to better understand how to care for women and children from cultures different than their own. The world has become such a small place, really. It only takes a plane ride of a few hours, and people from any part of the world could be living in your town-people who come with distinct beliefs and cultural values you've never imagined. I'm sure most of you have experienced this by now. It's so very important that we all know as much as possible about the cultures of the people for whom we care. This conference brought together nurses from all over the world to discuss maternity care and the research they're doing to make that care better. So many things stood out. I was pleased to be in the room when Dr. Judith Maloni, a prominent nurse researcher from Case Western Reserve University, discussed some of her research on bedrest in pregnancy. I was shocked that nurses from other countries were horrified that any woman would be put to bedrest for any reason. Pregnancy bedrest is actually unheard of in some of the countries represented. What a fantastic discussion it was! From our American viewpoint, pregnancy bedrest is commonplace. Dr. Maloni has been diligently working to discover the exact effects of bedrest on women. It hadn't occurred to me that the entire subject would seem extraneous to other nurses, since in their viewpoint, pregnancy bedrest is simply not done. This type of realization cannot happen unless one attends an international conference. What a valuable lesson in cross-cultural nursing we learned that day.


A nurse researcher from the United Kingdom presented a study she did on assessing the need for suturing episiotomies and tears intrapartum. Integral to the study was whether the woman would agree to be sutured. Agree to be sutured? When was the last time an American nurse heard of a birthing woman being asked her opinion about this topic? Do unsutured tears heal better, or is suturing important? Should women be consulted and given a choice?


A nurse from Thailand discussed maternal mortality from abortion in her country, and her efforts to help save those women's lives. She was eloquent describing the tragedy of a large number of women dying each year from self-induced illegal abortions. Her talk was inspiring, and reminded me of the great strides we have made in North America to reduce maternal mortality, but how far other parts of the world have yet to go.


Wonderful achievements are happening in other parts of the world in nursing. We can't and we shouldn't be insular. I think September 11th has taught us that much. We are one world. We all need to help each other, and encourage each other. I urge you to enlarge your network, and your cultural competence. Read the cultural articles in MCN and other journals. In the next few years, why not register for an international nursing meeting? You'll be the one who wins, as will your patients.