New Editor-in-Chief Appointed for Nurse Educator

marilyn oMarilyn Oermann, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF has been appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Educator. This message from the publisher, Beth Guthy, was posted on the journal’s website:

Dear Nursing Educators and Researchers,

Please join me in welcoming  Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN to the role of Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Educator.  As Director of Evaluation and Educational Research at Duke University School of Nursing, Dr. Oermann will bring her rich experience and voice to Nurse Educator.   A prolific author, speaker and mentor, you may also recognize Dr. Oermann as the Editor of the Journal of Nursing Care Quality.  We are delighted to welcome her to Nurse Educator and look forward to the leadership and expertise that she brings to the Journal and to the nursing education community.

At this time we would also like to offer our sincere thanks to Karen S. Hill, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN and Editor-in-Chief of JONA for her enormous efforts as Interim Editor of Nurse Educator over the last few months, and for the seamless transition to Dr. Oermann this February.  Thank you, too,  to the many board members, column editors, reviewers and authors who stepped in to offer strong support and ensure the ongoing success of Nurse Educator after the unexpected loss of our Editor, mentor and friend Suzanne P. Smith, RN, EdD, FAAN last Fall.

Please continue to share your ideas, contents and expertise with Nurse Educator.  We are looking forward to an exciting 2014 as Dr. Oermann takes the helm and works with the editorial board  to grow Nurse Educator, maintain relevance through outstanding evidence-based content and increase our reach in the education segment.

Beth L. Guthy
Publisher, Nurse Educator

Congratulations to Marilyn! Please leave best wishes or other words of encouragement for her in the comments.

ICN welcomes New Associate Editors of International Nursing Review

ICN Welcomes New Associate Editors of International Nursing Review

Geneva, Switzerland, 3 February 2014 – The International Council of Nurses is pleased to announce that Dr Pamela Mitchell and Dr Valerie Ehlers have been named as Associate Editors of the International Nursing Review, the official journal of the International Council of Nurses.

Dr. Pamela Mitchell

Dr. Pamela Mitchell

“I am delighted to welcome Pamela and Valerie to the staff of the INR,” said Dr Sue Turale, Editor of the INR. “Coming from different backgrounds and experiences, they will bring fresh new ideas and perspective to the journal. They have significant scholarly and practice qualities, and are passionate about helping nurses and midwives to publish and share knowledge. They are a great addition to the team.”

“I am pleased and honored to be joining the editorial group for the International Nursing Review,” said Dr Mitchell. “It is a wonderful opportunity to be part of the growing global influence of nursing.”

“It is a true honour to be part of the INR staff,” added Dr Ehlers.  “And I look forward to continuing the growth and success of this well-respected journal.”

Pamela Mitchell is Professor of Bio-behavioral Nursing and Health Systems, Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Services and founding Director of the Center for Health Sciences Interprofessional Education and Research at the University of Washington. She received a BSN from the University of Washington, an MS with a focus on medical-surgical clinical specialisation from the University of California, San Francisco, and a Ph.D. in Health Care Systems Ecology from the University of Washington. Her research and teaching focus on hospital care delivery systems, effective management of clinical care systems, biobehavioral interventions for patients with acute and chronic cardio-cerebrovascular disease, and outcomes of interprofessional education. She was recently elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and is very well published.

Dr. Valerie Ehlers

Dr. Valerie Ehlers

Valerie Ehlers, a nurse educator and academic until her retirement from the University of South Africa in December 2013, holds the following degrees: B Soc Sc (Nursing), Honours B Soc Sc (Psychology), BA Cur, Honours BA Cur, MA Cur and D Litt et Phil. She is registered with the South African Nursing Council as a general nurse, midwife, psychiatric nurse, community health nurse. She has worked in the fields of community health, midwifery, orthopaedics and medical-surgical nursing and has presented many conference papers/posters and has been published in many national and international journals and other publications. Dr Ehlers served on the editorial boards of two national and two international journals and reviewed articles for various journals. From 2009 till 2013 she was the executive editor of the Africa Journal of Nursing & Midwifery (AJNM).  A highlight was the AJNM’s accreditation as an academic journal by South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training in 2008, based on documents compiled by her. She has received the 2012 Women’s Research Leadership Award from the University of South Africa, and the Hall of Fame for Research Excellence in Nursing from the Forum of University Nursing Deans in South Africa in 2011.  She is married and the proud mother of two daughters.

New Editor for Nurse Author & Editor

Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF has been appointed Editor of Nurse Author & Editor, a quarterly online newsletter published by Wiley-Blackwell. Nurse Author & Editor was founded  by Suzanne Hall Johnson, MN, RN,C, CNS in 1991. Charon A. Pierson, PhD, GNP-BC, FAANP has served as Editor since 2008.

Dr. Marilyn Oermann is a Professor and Division Chair in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is author/co-author of 10 nursing education books and more than 150 articles in nursing and healthcare journals. She has edited 6 volumes of the Annual Review of Nursing Education. Her current books are Evaluation and Testing in Nursing Education (2nd ed.), Clinical Teaching Strategies in Nursing Education (2nd ed.), and Writing for Publication in Nursing. Dr. Oermann has written extensively on educational outcomes, teaching and evaluation in nursing education, and writing for publication as a nurse educator. She is the Editor of the Journal of Nursing Care Quality and past editor of the Annual Review of Nursing Education. Dr. Oermann has a Certification in Writing/Editing from the American Medical Writers Association. She lectures widely on nursing education topics and is a facilitator of the NLN Writing Retreat, sponsored by the NLN Foundation and Pocket Nurse. She is a member of the American Academy of Nursing and NLN Academy of Nursing Education.

Each issue of Nurse Author & Editor consists of articles offering advice on writing quality manuscripts, avoiding rejection, finding publishing opportunities, editing and reviewing.  Each issue also has a section containing short articles to update readers on new developments in nursing journals and journal publishing. You can access the publication here. You must register to access the current issue and archives (going back to 2006) but there is no charge.

If you would like to contribute an article to Nurse Author & Editor, contact Marilyn at

Closing the Loop on Dr. Spitzer

I posted here more than three weeks ago about the letter Dr. Robert Spitzer sent to Dr. Kenneth Zucker, repudiating and apologizing for his 2003 publication on “reparative therapy” for gays. Rachel Maddow did a great piece on it, blogs were all a-twitter (although it’s been a few weeks so they’ve gone quiet) and now, finally, the New York Times has picked up the story.

Leading Psychiatrist Apologizes for Study Supporting Gay ‘Cure’


Dr. Robert L. Spitzer

PRINCETON, N.J. — The simple fact was that he had done something wrong, and at the end of a long and revolutionary career it didn’t matter how often he’d been right, how powerful he once was, or what it would mean for his legacy.

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, considered by some to be the father of modern psychiatry, who turns 80 next week, lay awake at 4 o’clock on a recent morning knowing he had to do the one thing that comes least naturally to him.

He pushed himself up and staggered into the dark. His desk seemed impossibly far away; Dr. Spitzer suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has trouble walking, sitting, even holding his head upright.

The word he sometimes uses to describe these limitations — pathetic — is the same one that for decades he wielded like an ax to strike down dumb ideas, empty theorizing, and junk studies.

Now here he was at his computer, ready to recant a study he had done himself, a poorly conceived 2003 investigation that supported the use of so-called reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality for people strongly motivated to change.

What to say? The issue of gay marriage was rocking national politics yet again. The California State Legislature was debating a bill to ban the therapy outright as being dangerous. A magazine writer who had been through the therapy as a teenager recently visited his house, to explain how miserably disorienting the experience was.

And he would learn later that a World Health Organization report, released on Thursday, calls the therapy “a serious threat to the health and well-being — even the lives — of affected people.”

Dr. Spitzer’s fingers jerked over the keys, unreliably, as if choking on the words. And then it was done: a short letter to be published this month, in the same journal where the original study appeared.

“I believe,” it concludes, “I owe the gay community an apology.”

Disturber of the Peace

The idea to study reparative therapy at all was pure Spitzer, say those who know him, an effort to stick a finger in the eye of an orthodoxy that he himself had helped establish.

In the late 1990s as today, the psychiatric establishment considered the therapy to be a nonstarter. Few therapists thought of homosexuality as a disorder.

It was not always so. Up into the 1970s, the field’s diagnostic manual classified homosexuality as an illness, calling it a “sociopathic personality disturbance.” Many therapists offered treatment, including Freudian analysts who dominated the field at the time.

Advocates for gay people objected furiously, and in 1970, one year after the landmark Stonewall protests to stop police raids at a New York bar, a team of gay rights protesters heckled a meeting of behavioral therapists in New York to discuss the topic. The meeting broke up, but not before a young Columbia University professor sat down with the protesters to hear their case.

“I’ve always been drawn to controversy, and what I was hearing made sense,” said Dr. Spitzer, in an interview at his Princeton home last week. “And I began to think, well, if it is a mental disorder, then what makes it one?”

He compared homosexuality with other conditions defined as disorders, like depressionand alcohol dependence, and saw immediately that the latter caused marked distress or impairment, while homosexuality often did not.

He also saw an opportunity to do something about it. Dr. Spitzer was then a junior member of on an American Psychiatric Association committee helping to rewrite the field’s diagnostic manual, and he promptly organized a symposium to discuss the place of homosexuality.

That kicked off a series of bitter debates, pitting Dr. Spitzer against a pair of influential senior psychiatrists who would not budge. In the end, the psychiatric association in 1973 sided with Dr. Spitzer, deciding to drop homosexuality from its manual and replace it with his alternative, “sexual orientation disturbance,” to identify people whose sexual orientation, gay or straight, caused them distress.

The arcane language notwithstanding, homosexuality was no longer a “disorder.” Dr. Spitzer achieved a civil rights breakthrough in record time.

“I wouldn’t say that Robert Spitzer became a household name among the broader gay movement, but the declassification of homosexuality was widely celebrated as a victory,” said Ronald Bayer of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia. “ ‘Sick No More’ was a headline in some gay newspapers.”

Partly as a result, Dr. Spitzer took charge of the task of updating the diagnostic manual. Together with a colleague, Dr. Janet Williams, now his wife, he set to work. To an extent that is still not widely appreciated, his thinking about this one issue — homosexuality — drove a broader reconsideration of what mental illness is, of where to draw the line between normal and not.

The new manual, a 567-page doorstop released in 1980, became an unlikely best seller, here and abroad. It instantly set the standard for future psychiatry manuals, and elevated its principal architect, then nearing 50, to the pinnacle of his field.

He was the keeper of the book, part headmaster, part ambassador, and part ornery cleric, growling over the phone at scientists, journalists, or policy makers he thought were out of order. He took to the role as if born to it, colleagues say, helping to bring order to a historically chaotic corner of science.

But power was its own kind of confinement. Dr. Spitzer could still disturb the peace, all right, but no longer from the flanks, as a rebel. Now he was the establishment. And in the late 1990s, friends say, he remained restless as ever, eager to challenge common assumptions.

That’s when he ran into another group of protesters, at the psychiatric association’s annual meeting in 1999: self-described ex-gays. Like the homosexual protesters in 1973, they too were outraged that psychiatry was denying their experience — and any therapy that might help.

Reparative Therapy

Reparative therapy, sometimes called “sexual reorientation” or “conversion” therapy, is rooted in Freud’s idea that people are born bisexual and can move along a continuum from one end to the other. Some therapists never let go of the theory, and one of Dr. Spitzer’s main rivals in the 1973 debate, Dr. Charles W. Socarides, founded an organization called the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or Narth, in Southern California, to promote it.

By 1998, Narth had formed alliances with socially conservative advocacy groups and together they began an aggressive campaign, taking out full-page ads in major newspaper trumpeting success stories.

“People with a shared worldview basically came together and created their own set of experts to offer alternative policy views,” said Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist in New York and co-editor of “Ex-Gay Research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture.”

To Dr. Spitzer, the scientific question was at least worth asking: What was the effect of the therapy, if any? Previous studies had been biased and inconclusive. “People at the time did say to me, ‘Bob, you’re messing with your career, don’t do it,’ ” Dr. Spitzer said. “But I just didn’t feel vulnerable.”

He recruited 200 men and women, from the centers that were performing the therapy, including Exodus International, based in Florida, and Narth. He interviewed each in depth over the phone, asking about their sexual urges, feelings and behaviors before and after having the therapy, rating the answers on a scale.

He then compared the scores on this questionnaire, before and after therapy. “The majority of participants gave reports of change from a predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year,” his paper concluded.

The study — presented at a psychiatry meeting in 2001, before publication — immediately created a sensation, and ex-gay groups seized on it as solid evidence for their case. This was Dr. Spitzer, after all, the man who single-handedly removed homosexuality from the manual of mental disorders. No one could accuse him of bias.

But gay leaders accused him of betrayal, and they had their reasons.

The study had serious problems. It was based on what people remembered feeling years before — an often fuzzy record. It included some ex-gay advocates, who were politically active. And it did not test any particular therapy; only half of the participants engaged with a therapist at all, while the others worked with pastoral counselors, or in independent Bible study.

Several colleagues tried to stop the study in its tracks, and urged him not to publish it, Dr. Spitzer said.

Yet, heavily invested after all the work, he turned to a friend and former collaborator, Dr. Kenneth J. Zucker, psychologist in chief at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, another influential journal.

“I knew Bob and the quality of his work, and I agreed to publish it,” Dr. Zucker said in an interview last week. The paper did not go through the usual peer-review process, in which unnamed experts critique a manuscript before publication. “But I told him I would do it only if I also published commentaries” of response from other scientists to accompany the study, Dr. Zucker said.

Those commentaries, with a few exceptions, were merciless. One cited the Nuremberg Code of ethics to denounce the study as not only flawed but morally wrong. “We fear the repercussions of this study, including an increase in suffering, prejudice, and discrimination,” concluded a group of 15 researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, where Dr. Spitzer was affiliated.

Dr. Spitzer in no way implied in the study that being gay was a choice, or that it was possible for anyone who wanted to change to do so in therapy. But that didn’t stop socially conservative groups from citing the paper in support of just those points, according to Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit group that fights antigay bias.

On one occasion, a politician in Finland held up the study in Parliament to argue against civil unions, according to Dr. Drescher.

“It needs to be said that when this study was misused for political purposes to say that gays should be cured — as it was, many times — Bob responded immediately, to correct misperceptions,” said Dr. Drescher, who is gay.

But Dr. Spitzer could not control how his study was interpreted by everyone, and he could not erase the biggest scientific flaw of them all, roundly attacked in many of the commentaries: Simply asking people whether they have changed is no evidence at all of real change. People lie, to themselves and others. They continually change their stories, to suit their needs and moods.

By almost any measure, in short, the study failed the test of scientific rigor that Dr. Spitzer himself was so instrumental in enforcing for so many years.

“As I read these commentaries, I knew this was a problem, a big problem, and one I couldn’t answer,” Dr. Spitzer said. “How do you know someone has really changed?”

Letting Go

It took 11 years for him to admit it publicly.

At first he clung to the idea that the study was exploratory, an attempt to prompt scientists to think twice about dismissing the therapy outright. Then he took refuge in the position that the study was focused less on the effectiveness of the therapy and more on how people engaging in it described changes in sexual orientation.

“Not a very interesting question,” he said. “But for a long time I thought maybe I wouldn’t have to face the bigger problem, about measuring change.”

After retiring in 2003, he remained active on many fronts, but the reparative study remained a staple of the culture wars and a personal regret that wouldn’t leave him be. The Parkinson’s symptoms have worsened in the past year, exhausting him mentally as well as physically, making it still harder to fight back pangs of remorse.

And one day in March, Dr. Spitzer entertained a visitor. Gabriel Arana, a journalist at the magazine The American Prospect, interviewed Dr. Spitzer about the reparative therapy study. This was not just any interview; Mr. Arana went through reparative therapy himself as a teenager, and his therapist had recruited the young man for Dr. Spitzer’s study (Mr. Arana did not participate).

“I asked him about all his critics, and he just came out and said, ‘I think they’re largely correct,’ ” said Mr. Arana, who wrote about his own experience last month. Mr. Arana said that reparative therapy ultimately delayed his self-acceptance as a gay man and induced thoughts of suicide. “But at the time I was recruited for the Spitzer study, I was referred as a success story. I would have said I was making progress.”

That did it. The study that seemed at the time a mere footnote to a large life was growing into a chapter. And it needed a proper ending — a strong correction, directly from its author, not a journalist or colleague.

A draft of the letter has already leaked online and has been reported.

“You know, it’s the only regret I have; the only professional one,” Dr. Spitzer said of the study, near the end of a long interview. “And I think, in the history of psychiatry, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a scientist write a letter saying that the data were all there but were totally misinterpreted. Who admitted that and who apologized to his readers.”

He looked away and back again, his big eyes blurring with emotion. “That’s something, don’t you think?”

Click here to read the original article. I would also suggest perusing the comments. They are very interesting (and if you dig deep enough, you will find one from “you know who”). I am surprised at how many people have absolute faith in the peer review system, believing that if it had been employed properly, this study would never have been published and its subsequent harms would have been prevented. Really? I certainly believe in and use the peer review process in my journal but I don’t have an expectation that it’s perfect. If it was, why would we need a blog like Retraction Watch?

Editors’ Pet Peeves and Gold Stars

Every journal editor has particular practices that are favored over others, and some of these are unique to the particular journal.  But there are a handful of almost universal pet peeves, and practices that would earn a gold star, things that make an editor smile!  One issue surfaced recently that prompted me to reflect on some of my particular likes and dislikes, and why.  So I decided to share my personal lists with a brief commentary on each item, and invite other editors to comment and add ideas of your own.

Gold Stars

  • The journal requirements for style and format are followed precisely!  This saves our copy editors hours of excruciating work, and it is a signal that the author has attended to details that make this journal what it is.  A consistent style and format helps readers to focus on the content, instead of being distracted by matters of style.
  • The author’s own voice and message stands out!  I want to know what this author has to contribute to the topic they are addressing so that what we publish is unique, and presents a fresh perspective to our readers.
  • The author uses an active voice, including the use of first person pronouns to refer to themselves.  There is still a lingering belief that professional writing should not use first person pronouns.  To the contrary, the best writing guidelines endorse the use of first person pronouns and an active voice instead of the awkward third-person, passive voice practices of part decades.  I caution authors to use the first person sparingly to avoid excessive “egotism” in their work, but the admonition to not use first person at all is outdated.

Pet Peeves

  • First on this list has to be a failure to earn my “gold star” points!  In fact, failure to adhere to the journal’s style and format is one of the major reasons that I send a manuscript back to the author.  The other two points are not grounds for getting the manuscript rejected, but they do influence the review of the manuscript in less-than-positive way.
  • Failure to respond to editorial communications in a timely manner.  Of course this is a two-way street and I place a high priority on my own prompt and timely communication with authors; I expect the same from authors and reviewers as well.  Timely responses are particularly important once a manuscript goes into production, when we need to have page proofs reviewed and author queries attended to in a time frame that meets the production schedule.
  • Use of the designation “PhD(c).”  I blogged about this issue on the ANS post titled How to list your credentials and title when you publish.  A reader challenged my position and stated that this designation can be used, so I looked into the matter further.  I found  that some Universities do sanction the use of this designation by those who have reached candidacy, but none that I found award this as a degree. A few do award a Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil) designation, also referred to as an “intermediate degree” but this designation is only good for 7 years, which is the typical time period after which any “candidacy” expires. There is no indication that I can find that affirms the use of this designation as a title. If it is the practice of an institution to use the designation internally, then certainly a doctoral candidate is well advised to use it in that context. However, given that candidacy does expire, I maintain the use this designation in a published work, which will survive the time frame of the designation, is not appropriate.

What are your “gold stars” and “pet peeves?”  Share your comments here!

Listing Authors and Their Contributions

I know we’ve had many lively discussions at INANE meetings about author contributions to an article, duplicate publication and so on. I think we all have different ways we handle the issue of assessing and documenting that all the listed authors have contributed to the writing of the article. This guidance comes from our publishers as well as our own personal preferences and beliefs. For my journal, CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, I have all authors have to sign a statement that affirms that they have substantially participated in the writing of an article.  I was reading an article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine and came across this, which I thought might be of interest to the group.

Title of article, listing the authors:

At the end of the article is this statement:

I have been pondering if I want to change my procedure to include something like this. I am throwing this out to my colleagues for discussion. Are any of you requiring statements such as presented above? Why or why not? If yes, is it working well? Are authors able to easily give you the documentation you request? Or do they see it as another bit of busy work that we pesky editors require?

I look forward to your comments!

In Memory: Rose Mary Carroll Johnson

From the INANE Mailing List:

To my colleagues,

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Rose Mary Carroll Johnson,
Editor of the Oncology Nursing Forum, passed away very early this morning, February 21st, surrounded by family and dear friends at her home in California. This is sad news and not unexpected – but difficult nonetheless. Rose Mary put up a long and strong fight against cancer – a disease that she also fought on the professional front. Rose Mary celebrated her 20th year as Editor of the Oncology Nursing
Forum this year, in 2011. For her professional and personal friendship, we are
all grateful. She will be missed in so many ways.

No arrangements have been finalized at this time. Her daughter, Elizabeth Mills,
has posted an update on the CaringBridge website
( and will share
further plans on the website as they become available. I will also share any
information I receive through ONS.

Please remember Rose Mary’s family in your thoughts and prayers. To all of Rose
Mary’s colleagues, we extend a wish for peace, solace and tender memories of a
dear friend.

Susan Moore RN, MSN, ANP, AOCN
Assistant Editor
Oncology Nursing Forum

* * * * *

This is very sad news. I was the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing from 2001-2009. Prior to my assuming the editorship, Rose Mary was in the editor role. I always enjoyed talking with her at INANE meetings and I appreciated her support in my first months on the job at JHPN. My thoughts and prayers go out to Rose Mary’s family, friends, and professional colleagues.

Editorial role in promoting discussion

I think that most journal editors welcome “letters” to the editor, and many readers actually read them!  In the journal I edit,  Advances in Nursing Science, we receive letters all too rarely, but when we do, they tend to arise out of some idea that has prompted disagreement or reaction to an article.  We recently encountered a very strong response to an article we published titled  The politics of nursing knowledge and education: Critical pedagogy in the face of the militarisation of nursing in the war on terror. The letters that we have published in the current issue of journal are available on our web site.  How about some discussion here about our editorial role in promoting this kind of discussion … post your comments and let’s explore how various editors view this kind of “role” for our journals, and for those who believe this has value, how can we promote more of this.