A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
—Confucius 551 b.c.–479 b.c.
It seems like only yesterday that I agreed to step into the role of editor-in-chief for Diabetes Spectrum. In fact it was nearly 6 years ago. That was the first step on a memorable journey I have been privileged to have made alongside many passionate and talented people.
The experience of editing this journal has left me in awe of my many colleagues who have contributed to it. The journal is receiving increasing numbers of unsolicited article submissions from all diabetes-related disciplines. Our From Research to Practice translation sections each have required countless hours of diligent work on the part of the experts who served as guest editors and the associate editors who served as section coordinators. Together, we have tackled many timely clinical issues that our patients face each day. And the articles published in our journal are receiving wider circulation than ever before because of their accessibility online through HighWire Press.
My journey with diabetes, however, began far earlier than my tenure as editor, or even than my career as a nurse. It began when I was still a child,as I watched an aunt who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 3 struggle with repeated uncontrolled hypoglycemia (“Where is the Coke?”) and ultimately with the serious complications of diabetes. Then my brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 19. I began to understand type 2 diabetes before I graduated from nursing school, when I met my future husband's aunt who was dying from gangrene at age 57. Subsequently, five of her seven siblings have died from complications of diabetes, including my“second Dad,” my father-in-law. And now my brother's daughter has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, as well. This is a relentless disease.
Given my family experience, one might assume that my journey into the field of diabetes care was an obvious choice. But in reality, I began as a pediatric nurse who found that she liked working with children who were hospitalized with newly diagnosed diabetes. I liked the teaching.
Then, a fellow graduate from the Wichita State University School of Nursing, Debbie Hinnen, asked if I would be interested in joining the University of Kansas School of Medicine group, which was in need of a research nurse. That was in 1979. I didn't have a clue what a research nurse did, but what an important step that was in my life! Over the years, Debbie has inspired thousands of educators and patients alike. Just this week, I heard a student talking about her passion as she teaches. Over time, some people lose their “fire.” But not Debbie. She has been involved in diabetes education for nearly 30 years, and she has as much fire and passion for teaching both health professionals and people living with diabetes as she did the day she joined the practice of Richard and Diana Guthrie.
I knew of the Guthries well before I joined their group. Richard Guthrie, a pediatric endocrinologist, expected his kids, his patients, to be taken care of right when they were in the hospital. Their insulin was to be given on time, urine tests were to be done by a method called fractionation, and the old Eyetone blood glucose monitor was to be calibrated correctly to get accurate blood glucose levels when managing ketoacidosis in the Intensive Care Unit. And I had had Diana Guthrie as a nursing instructor at Wichita State University. She had guided me in supporting a child with diabetes and her family in the home setting, a task I was assigned as part of my community health training. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in promoting the role of the diabetes educator, “the wandering diabetic nurse,”and the importance of addressing the whole person and not just the disease.
These three people, Debbie Hinnen, Richard Guthrie, and Diana Guthrie, have been inspirations to me and many other health professionals and patients, both nationally and internationally. Their contributions as associate editors of Diabetes Spectrum these past 5 years have been innumerable, and the value of their mentoring and friendship is immeasurable.
When I agreed to serve as editor of this journal, I did not really know much about the job description. What I have learned is that, just as in diabetes management, it is important in editing to surround yourself with the best team possible.
In addition to the Guthries and Debbie, I was privileged to have Ann Albright, a nutrition and exercise specialist; Geralyn Spollett, an advanced practice diabetes nurse; and Frank Snoek, a diabetes behavioral scientist, as associate editors. Ann coordinated the journal's “Nutrition FYI”department by rallying her colleagues in the dietetics community; she shared her personal diabetes perspective and her undying passion for advocacy. Geri has what I call “a diabetes heart.” This is a heart that doesn't live with diabetes but truly understands the day-to-day challenges of living with diabetes. She provided wisdom and thoughtfulness to each of the research sections she coordinated and every editorial she wrote. Frank, who practices in the Netherlands, brought an international perspective and provided rich contributions, especially to the “Lifestyle and Behavior”department and the research sections he coordinated.
Let me also say that the journal would not be what it is without the Publications Department staff of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). My journey without managing editor Debbie Fentress would not have been the same. She has provided guidance, direction, superb copyediting, and always a thoughtful perspective. Likewise, Associate Director for Journal and Custom Publishing Production Elizabeth Rich, Director of Scholarly Journal Publishing Aime Ballard, and Publisher Peter Banks are instrumental in ensuring the success of Diabetes Spectrum.
It is now yet another privilege for me to introduce the incoming Editor-in-Chief Davida Kruger, MSN, APRN-BC, BC-ADM, an advanced practice diabetes nurse from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich. Davida and I have had a long friendship that began when we were fellow members of the ADA Executive Committee. A past president of the ADA Research Foundation and former associate editor of Diabetes Spectrum, she is now preparing to take the helm as editor and has selected an outstanding team to assist her. Incoming associate editors include Samuel L. Abbate, MD; Roger P. Austin, MS,RPh, CDE; Jackie L. Boucher, MS RD, BC-ADM, CDE; Denise C. Charron-Prochownik,PhD, CPNP; Betsy B. Dokken, NP, MSN, CDE; Martha M. Funnell, MS RN, CDE; Katie Weinger, EdD, RN; and Fred W. Whitehouse, MD. The new team has many exciting plans for future issues of Diabetes Spectrum, and I am sure they would welcome manuscript submission, ideas, or other suggestions from the journal's readership.
The single step of taking a new job when it was offered was the beginning of many personal adventures throughout my diabetes journey. Agreeing to serve as Diabetes Spectrum editor was another important step along the way. But my thousand-mile journey is far from over. One just has to look at my own family's experience to see that there remains much to do.
As I have done many times during the past 5 years, I would like to challenge you to continue supporting the ADA mission to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Progress has been made, but our work is not done.
It has been an honor to serve as editor-in-chief of Diabetes Spectrum. Thank you.