It is my hope that, by the time you read this editorial, I will have met my new dermatologist, one that I have waited 17 months to see. We are all familiar with extraordinary long wait times to see a dermatology provider in the United States, and my case is no different. Fortunately, I have not had an emergent need to see one quickly, although in the interim while waiting, I saw a general surgeon for a small excision. This visit was my decision, and one that certainly could have been delayed. If we are being honest, the wait time in my case has been predicated on a number of factors, including that fact that I was new to the state, I was new to my healthcare system, and then, of course, COVID-19 happened. Also, I am also making choices that are intentional about who my providers will be, and I know this decision affects options and timing of appointments.
As I write this, I note I officially passed the 5-year anniversary of my melanoma removal, an experience and life event that I shared with readers at the time. Time has a way of changing as I age. Then, I got to thinking about some of the current events of 2020, not just related to COVID-19 and the politics of an election year, which certainly have played a larger-than-life role than expected, but also about the numerous social changes occurring in our society, in nursing, in nursing publication, and in our hearts. Maybe 17 months is not that long to wait given that the underlying reasons for many of the protests of 2020—racism, hate, unacceptance of others not like ourselves—have been hundreds of years in the making.
Many of us find ourselves at a changing point, and only history and time will tell us if we—as a society, as a profession—were successful in changing the status quo and moving forward with expectations of confronting and addressing racism in all its variations. Often, nurses have been at the front of this discrimination. For this reason, many of my nursing editor colleagues have taken to their respective journals to opine about the considerations for nursing and nurses. I ask you to do the same in your personal and professional lives. In mid-summer 2020, the Dermatology Nurses' Association announced their statement against racism; you can see the statement in Figure 1 (Position Statements. [2020, September 2]). I would ask that you reflect on these words and identify opportunities for professional growth, whether it be by attending a lecture, reading, watching an Internet video, or engaging in meaningful dialogue with your fellow colleagues.
I grew up and, again, currently live in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a place that, by virtue of our history and the history of the nation, does not often let you forget that racism and consideration of skin color has long been a contentious topic in the United States. Let us start engaging in a national dialogue so that years from now we can say we have learned from our past and created a new course. It is not enough to continue the same way of thinking that has led us to this point; we need to do better.
As a Journal, we are taking baby steps to address historical inequalities and inaccuracies. Many long-time readers know that I’ve often and publicly acknowledged I was seeking to diversify the Editorial Board and the content of the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association (JDNA). It takes time to make these changes, as well as persons willing to be involved in that change. I announced several new Editorial Board members in my last Editorial, and with their introduction, I am hopeful for continued changes. Perhaps you, as a reader, have ideas of how our Journal can be responsive to the current cultural climate? I’d love to hear your ideas.
There are also stylistic changes that the Journal will be implementing, as well. The JDNA is going to begin using Black and white to describe patients and will not continue use of the descriptor “African American” to describe patients of color. The capitalization of the “B” in Black is intentional and stems from much research and thoughtful dialogue with publishing experts, whereas white will remain lower case. Other groups will be identified and capitalized as appropriate, such as Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, and so forth. The Journal continues to look for better representation of skin of color in our articles, both in topic content and associated photos that accompany articles. It is my hope that, with time, we'll start seeing more diversity within our pages, and I acknowledge that this effort starts with me, as Editor. I pledge to have these types of ongoing conversations, suggestions, and recommendations with authors and potential authors. I am hopeful that these changes will come with time as a direct result of intentional, dedicated efforts toward improvement.
Would you like to help us with our plan to move the Journal forward, toward better practices? Do you have photos or patient examples that represent and highlight clinical disease presentation in skin of color? Do you have cases that demonstrate disease processes in different skin types? Would you be willing to share?
In other attempts to move the Journal forward, I am pleased to announce a new Editorial Board member, Emily Greenstein, APRN, CNP, CWON, FACCWS, a wound care Nurse Practitioner from North Dakota (Figure 2). She brings significant wound care experience to the Journal and is going to be instrumental in helping the Journal start a recurring Wound Care column. Regarding her participation with the Journal, she says, “I am excited to be part of this opportunity with the JDNA. Chronic wounds affect many different patients, whom can show up at any point in the healthcare system. Often, these patients tend to ‘fall through the cracks,’ not receiving the proper care or referrals in a timely manner. Because wound care is multidisciplinary, I feel that it is important that all healthcare providers are up-to-date on current wound care guidelines and research recommendations.” Please join me in welcoming Emily as a new Editorial Board member and be sure to look at the new column once it starts.
Although 2020 has been a difficult and challenging year for most of us, I hope you have had the opportunity to reflect on what these challenges mean for you personally and acted in ways that are in concert with your beliefs. I am looking forward to 2021 and continuing to have the JDNA be reflective of your educational needs and clinical interests, while continuing to push the envelope of change as necessary, and I welcome you along for the next year!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Angela L. Borger
Position Statements. (2020, September 2). Retrieved September 13, 2020, from https://www.dnanurse.org/position-statements/