A Journey Through the History of the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association: 15 Years of Advancing Dermatology Nursing : Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association

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A Journey Through the History of the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association

15 Years of Advancing Dermatology Nursing

Davis, Kyleen E.

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Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association 15(1):p 11-18, 1/2 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/JDN.0000000000000721
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The Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association (JDNA) launched its first issue at the start of the new year in 2009. At that time, the pioneers of the Journal had a vision: create a peer-reviewed, science-based, medical reference written for dermatology nurses by dermatology nurses. Over the next 15 years, JDNA succeeded in publishing numerous articles on issues that mattered most to dermatology nurses, ranging from mild skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, to life-threatening skin cancers and dermatologic emergencies. Over time, JDNA gradually transformed into the reliable, informative, and peer-reviewed resource it is today. This article traces the evolution of the JDNA, from its inception as a fledgling society journal 15 years ago into a trusted information source with over 650 publications. Documenting the history of JDNA allows for readers to reminisce over their past experiences with the Journal to see how far it has come, while simultaneously illuminating areas for future development.


In the early years after the Dermatology Nurses' Association (DNA) was formed in 1981, many of its members contributed to a publication called Dermatology Nursing (Figure 1). Past records indicated that Dermatology Nursing commenced publication in 1989 and continued for nearly 22 years before ceasing in 2010. At the time, Dermatology Nursing was owned by the publishing company A. J. Jannetti, and the DNA Board and its members felt it was important to retain the rights to the scientific resource they read and contributed to on a regular basis. Hence, a decision was made in 2008 to embark on the creation of a completely new journal that belonged exclusively to the DNA. Members of the DNA and early editorial board decided to call this publication the JDNA.

Dermatology Nursing cover, April 2008.


At the end of 2008, DNA's president at the time, Karrie Fairbrother, sent a letter to all DNA members announcing the official launch of JDNA beginning in 2009 (Figure 2). In the announcement, Ms. Fairbrother stated the JDNA would offer new columns to its readers to cover topics such as ethics, leadership, and pharmacology as well as provide continuing educational opportunities for nurses. In her words,

JDNA cover Jan/Feb 2009.

“The JDNA is a prime example of leadership's willingness to implement decisions that will improve the Association and its members, and put the DNA at the forefront of dermatology nursing care.”

The world-renowned publishing company, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a unit of Wolters Kluwer Health, was selected as the new publisher, and the first issue of JDNA was sent out to readers in January 2009. Kathleen Phelan, senior publisher at Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, was responsible for the successful launch and production of JDNA until her retirement in 2019. Without her persistent efforts and wealth of experience, JDNA would not have achieved all that it set out to accomplish. Following Ms. Phelan's departure, Marissa Murray-Harrison commenced as publisher and has provided continual guidance and leadership as the JDNA continues to evolve (Figure 3).

Kathleen Phelan's and Marissa Murray-Harrison's photos.


Cynthia King, PhD, MSN, NP, FAAN, served as the first Editor-in-Chief of JDNA for the initial three issues of the Journal's life (Figure 4). Despite holding the editor position for just a short time, Dr. King helped propel the first few issues into publication by devising columns to fill its pages, welcoming board members to help write articles, and setting the seeds for many issues to come. She believed in the importance of collaboration with different nursing organizations and called for DNA members to participate in the Journal in any way possible. In her words,

Cynthia King, JDNA's first Editor in Chief, 2009.

“Each of us has some special skills that can benefit others and allow us to effect positive change.”

During her tenure, the column “Research Highlights” was launched, which sought to summarize the current dermatology literature pertaining to nurses. For over 10 years, multiple different dermatology colleagues at the University of Toronto contributed informative and well-written articles to the column, resulting in a new column for nearly every issue. The “Research Highlights” column was extremely successful and is still part of JDNA today.

Dr. King's work was succeeded by Barbara Starr, MSN, ANP-C, GNP-C, who assumed the role of Editor-in-Chief from 2009 to 2011 (Figure 5). Barbara Starr was responsible for introducing a new column for JDNA, entitled “Skin Test,” in 2011, which quizzed dermatology nurses' knowledge and provided detailed explanations on correct and incorrect responses. This column was championed by Christina Linton, PhD, FNP-BC, who diligently wrote articles for every issue until Theresa Coyner, MSN, ANP-BC, DCNP, began writing for the column in 2018.

Barbara Starr, JDNA's Editor in Chief, 2009–2011.

Ms. Starr also oversaw the launch of the JDNA website in September 2009 and the Journal's introduction into the world of social media in September of 2010. While Ms. Starr successfully guided JDNA into the modern world of scientific journalism, she had to withstand many challenges, particularly pertaining to recruiting new authors for the Journal. At one point, a reader commented on how thin the Journal was, to which she responded:

“We will look back on the days of being young and thin, as the JDNA adds—or, I should say, as we all, working together, add—features and meat to its fine bones.”

Since that time, JDNA has continued to “add meat to its bones” in the form of new articles, columns, and authors over its subsequent 10 years in print. Through its many challenges and successes, JDNA has matured as a journal, and Ms. Starr would be pleased to see the progress that has been made since her time as editor.

Holding the longest tenure as Editor of the JDNA is the current Editor in Chief, Angela Borger, DNP, FNP-BC, DNC, beginning in June 2011 through present day (Figure 6). Her vision for the JDNA was to be “a conduit for knowledge and a forum where dermatology nurses and dermatology professionals can bridge the gap between research and practice and between practice and our patients.”

Angela Borger, JDNA's Editor in Chief since 2011.

New Columns

Dr. Borger oversaw the most rapid expansion of the JDNA through the years, adding numerous columns, specialty issues, social media developments, and new board members to the Journal. Among the many newly introduced columns, the most successful were the following:

  • “Language of Dermatology” (introduced September/October 2011): This column contains articles dedicated to defining and describing common dermatologic terms in various diseases, including, but not limited to, alopecia, psoriasis, and peripheral vascular disease.
  • “Clinical Pearls” (introduced September/October 2011): a column designed for practicing nurses to write about “clinical information” drawn from their work experiences (Borger, 2011).
  • “Teledermatology Viewpoint” (introduced November/December 2014): a column dedicated to presenting a case in a “standardized teledermatology reader format,” which includes history and visual data similar to what might be transferred from one healthcare provider to another in different settings (Roman & Jacob, 2015). Articles for this column were often written by Sharon Jacob, MD, and her colleagues. Early examples showcased in this column included cases showing torus palatinus and cherry angiomas.
  • “Drugs in Dermatology” (introduced May/June 2015): Written primarily by Sharon Jacob, MD, and her colleagues, this column is dedicated to reviewing important medications used in dermatology, including the drug's mechanism of action, dosing, safety, and precautions. More recently, Patrick Zito, DO, contributed several articles to the column.
  • “Photo Quiz” (introduced January/February 2017): a test of dermatology knowledge based on a picture, which was started by Eden Lake, MD, after recognizing a need for photo quizzes in dermatology nursing publications.

Special Issues

During Dr. Borger's tenure, multiple special issues were published. The year 2012 was a particularly prolific year for articles, with two issues focused entirely on dedicated content. May/June 2012 was an exclusive social media issue and included articles such as social media use among nurses, understanding social media lingo, and navigating the use of various aspects of social media. The July/August 2012 special international issue examined dermatology nursing practices around the globe with experts from countries such as the United Kingdom, Scotland, Uganda, and India, sharing their experiences of working internationally in the nursing field.

In response to readers' request for more cosmetic content, the September/October 2013 issue was dedicated entirely to cosmetic topics, such as the use of neuromodulators, complications of dermal fillers and blepharoplasty, laser therapy for vascular lesions, and other beauty-enhancing therapeutics. Special issues continued the following year with a supplement published in September/October 2014 devoted entirely to psoriasis. This supplement included articles on the psychosocial impact of psoriasis, assessing the severity of psoriasis, reducing cardiovascular risk in patients with psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and a review of psoriatic biologic therapies. Furthermore, in January/February of 2018, an acne supplement was published and encompassed topics related to acne and diet, isotretinoin, and acne variations in special populations.

For most of its literary life, the JDNA has had the good fortune of having Melissa Derby as its managing editor. Ms. Derby brings a wealth of experience to the Journal, with over 30 years of working as a Managing Editor—first for the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and then for JDNA. Among her many duties, Ms. Derby is responsible for overseeing the production of each publication on the online submission portal, Editorial Manager. She also works closely with Dr. Borger to compile the lineup of articles for each issue, ensuring that each article has been carefully evaluated and completed before transmitting to the publisher. Importantly, she serves as an essential liaison between authors, peer reviewers, Editorial Board members, and the publisher. She has intimate knowledge of the publication process and is an extremely important resource for the JDNA (Figure 7).

Melissa Derby, JDNA's Managing Editor since 2011.

Kyleen Davis, MSN, FNP-BC, DCNP, joined JDNA as Associate Editor in September 2019. After responding to extensive reader feedback on the need for more review articles on skin cancer, Ms. Davis helped launch the “Skin Cancer, Back to Basics” column in March/April 2020. This ongoing column includes literature review articles on many different common and unusual skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, amelanotic melanoma, actinic keratosis, and anogenital squamous cell carcinoma (Figure 8).

Kyleen Davis, JDNA's Associate Editor since 2019.

Throughout the Journal's history, the editorial board has been staffed with numerous dedicated individuals, many of them dermatology nurses. To increase the diversity of the board and add different perspectives, members of multiple disciplines were asked to participate on the board through the years, including physicians, pharmacists, doctorally prepared individuals, medical assistants, and even a librarian. JDNA has also had board members from other countries. Throughout the years, JDNA has been committed to having a diverse board with consideration to professional practice levels, practice specialties, age, gender, geography, and locations, among other factors. As the Journal looks forward to the future, JDNA is always striving to have a board that reflects the individual characteristics of all of the DNA members. JDNA truly appreciates all of the contributions board members have made through the years; their unique perspectives have given rich diversity to the Journal (Figure 9).

Editorial board photos.


In 2010, Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP, was named the Digital Development Editor for JDNA (Figure 10). Her goal in this role was to strengthen the online presence of the Journal. In keeping with this goal, JDNA made its foray into the world of social media in September 2010, starting with accounts on Twitter and Facebook and then on LinkedIn in 2011. Ms. Bonsall was instrumental in launching a new JDNA app for iPad in December 2012, facilitating easy navigation and reading of the Journal online (Figure 11). She also began recording a series of podcasts on social media in 2012 so that JDNA authors were able to share their expertise with the broader JDNA community.

Lisa Bonsall's photo, JDNA's Digital Development Editor since 2011.
Launch of the iPad app.


As the official society of the JDNA, the DNA and its Board of Directors have consistently provided the JDNA with the support it needs to flourish as a scientific journal, offering resources, funding, and a wonderful group of intelligent nurse authors to write for the Journal. Working together, the JDNA and the DNA have helped foster the DNA's mission of promoting excellence in dermatological care (DNA, 2022). The JDNA is enormously grateful for the support it has received from the DNA and is proud to be rooted in such an esteemed community of exceptional nurses (Figure 12).

Timeline of 15 years of JDNA.


Throughout the past fifteen years, the editors, editorial board members, authors, peer reviewers, and readers of JDNA have all done their best to ensure that the Journal not just survive, but thrive. Learning from both its successes and failures, JDNA has developed into a high-quality scientific publication that continually takes steps to improve article topics, columns, and the quality of its writing. JDNA has earned its place as a trusted resource among dermatology nurses. In the end, the DNA took a risk in creating a brand-new society Journal. Hopefully, JDNA has proven, and will continue to show, that this risk has been worthwhile.


I would like to acknowledge Angela Borger, Linda Markham, Theresa Coyner, and Lisa Bonsall for their support in writing this article. Without their vast knowledge and expertise on the evolution of the JDNA throughout the years, this article would not be possible.


Borger A. (2011). Sun safety, column updates, and social media. The Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association, 3(5), 251.
Dermatology Nurses' Association. (2022). About DNA: Mission statement. https://www.dnanurse.org/aboutdna/
Roman M., Jacob S. (2015). Teledermatology: Virtual access to quality dermatology care and beyond. Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association, 6(6), 285–287.
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