1. Baker, Kathy A. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

Article Content

The editorial board and publication staff have just completed our systematic strategic planning process for the Gastroenterology Nursing journal (GNJ), which is routinely conducted every three years. I am always amazed at the growth of our specialty, the reflection of that growth in our journal, and the opportunities for change and impact. It is amazing as an editorial board to remember when we first struggled to find quality manuscripts to support six issues per year. Now, we struggle to keep up with the number of manuscripts submitted for publication consideration, and our efforts are focused on finding ways to disseminate current literature before it becomes old news!

Kathy A. Baker, PhD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowKathy A. Baker, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

Another challenge that has emerged is the swing from primarily clinical articles with few research or evidence manuscripts to a wealth of research manuscript submissions and a struggle to recruit manuscripts with a primary clinical focus. The complexity and demands of practice seem to have impacted clinicians' desires to write and publish so that few authors based in practice are submitting manuscripts that speak to content focused on general knowledge and gastroenterology nursing practice.


Additionally, while the science of our specialty has increased, there is still a need for reports related to quality efforts and outcomes to be shared within gastroenterology nursing so that our care is safe and efficient. Learning from one another through sharing best practices and quality improvement is meaningful, though different from the structure and systematic approach to research through scientific study. All approaches are valuable and worthwhile for broad dissemination to positively influence patient care.


With the increase in manuscript submissions comes an increased need for committed reviewers who serve as the gatekeepers for our specialty and discipline. Reviewers give their time to read submitted manuscripts; consider manuscript strengths and weaknesses; make recommendations related to manuscript publication such as acceptance, revision, or rejection; and shape the quality and direction of the specialty through the peer review process. Serving as a reviewer is a major responsibility and privilege.


We have been fortunate as an editorial board to gain support and resources from both our professional organization and publisher to support our tremendous growth over the past few years. Additional publication staff has been added to support my role as Editor for the operational aspects of the day-to-day management of the journal. Additionally, our Board of Directors for the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) has appointed a new Associate Editor, SGNA member Cathleen Shellnutt, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, CGRN, to support the growth and complexity of the publication process. SGNA has also provided the opportunity each year at our annual course for attendees to benefit from a breakout session focused on writing for publication. During this writing workshop, new and experienced authors benefit from direct interaction with the editor, editorial board, and fellow authors discussing writing and the publication process.


As readers, I would like to challenge you to consider how you might contribute to the impact the journal has on our specialty. Plan to write a clinical article to support gastroenterology nursing practice. Your focus could be a case study, disease process, patient care challenge, or quality improvement project. An evidence-based review of a clinical topic with recommendations for practice and research would be a valuable contribution to our literature. You may consider submitting your name to become a peer reviewer for the journal. As I previously stated, peer review is both a privilege and responsibility. You will want to do a timely review so that authors are not kept waiting, and your feedback should be honest, constructive, and direct so that the author clearly understands your suggestions, concerns, and recommendations for improving their manuscript. Serving as a reviewer is a wonderful way to improve your own writing skills and certainly helps to assure our science and knowledge is robust, credible, and relevant. While we do need reviewers with specific specialty expertise in practice or research, your ability to represent the "average" reader is also beneficial and meaningful.


Readers also love our columns in GNJ. Perhaps you would like to serve as a column editor for a particular area of interest to our readership. Current and past columns that GNJ has published include topics addressing pharmacology, clinical case studies, research, evidence-based practice, and leadership, to name a few. Suggested column topics could include infection prevention, health policy, advanced practice, ethics, technology, or any other ideas you might propose as a new column editor. Columns are written by the column editor or solicited from other authors. A column is generally three to five pages in length (double-spaced) and is a great way to ease into writing for publication.


Whether writing, reviewing, or serving as a column editor, all are opportunities for you to serve a meaningful role in shaping the future of our nursing specialty. In addition to impacting our knowledge and science, you will benefit professionally and personally through developing your skills in writing and communicating nursing knowledge. As we celebrate 40 years of journal contributions to gastroenterology nursing practice, consider becoming an active contributor to the continued success of GNJ. A heartfelt thank you to those of you who already serve. You are a major part of our success. Here's to the future: 40 more years and counting!