This issue of Critical Care Nurse represents both a culmination and celebration. After many months of diligent preparation, the October 2009 issue of CCN is the first issue in its 29-year history to be simultaneously published in both print and digital formats. In addition, among the 3 professional nursing journals published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), CCN is the first journal to be provided in a digital format.

CCN readers who are also AACN members may have some familiarity with digital communications from the July 2009 launch of Bold Voices, the monthly magazine sent to members via e-mail link that communicates news and stories on acute and critical care nursing. Simply clicking on that link opened the reader’s browser and immediately accessed the current issue. Those of you reading this from the digital edition may have already discovered that approach for linking to the digital version of CCN and explored some of the many features that this medium offers. Those of you reading this from our traditional print edition, however, may not yet have tried our new presentation, so may still have some questions related to what constitutes a digital edition and how provision of that delivery format benefits you.

What Is a Digital Edition of a Nursing Journal?

For journals that have been provided in the traditional print format, the digital version may be either an exact copy of the print version (referred to as a digital replica) or may differ from the print version in minor or substantive ways (referred to by the more encompassing term, digital edition). In contrast to the print edition delivered by postal mail, the digital edition is delivered via an e-mail message that notifies and provides a link for accessing each new issue. At least for a while, CCN’s digital version will remain very closely aligned with its print edition. As our experience providing and your experience using this new medium advance, that tie between print and digital media will likely loosen to enable taking maximal advantage of all the latter offers as technology continues to evolve. Even at the outset of this dual channel launch, however, our new digital format offers many benefits to readers.

Benefits of a Digital Edition of CCN

Besides including all of the content contained in the print edition of CCN, the digital version offers an array of potential advantages to readers as critical care nurses, as CCN subscribers, and as AACN members.

Benefits as a Critical Care Nurse

As a journal primarily devoted to clinical practice and patient care, the digital edition of CCN will continue to support that mission by providing the following:

  • Immediate access to clinically important information. Digital editions enable not only the timely receipt of the wealth of clinical information included in each issue of the journal, but also make possible a means for updating discrete findings or points of information that affect patient care and for quickly conveying corrections or clarifications to readers.

  • Content available when you need and want it. CCN readers are extraordinarily busy professionals, with home, family, academic, and community responsibilities in addition to their career. Digital formats are responsive to these multivariate obligations because they enable nurses to avail themselves of journal content at times and places most convenient to their needs and circumstances. Any Internet connection will offer instant access to the journal in any location and at any time day or night.

  • Facilitated sharing of clinical practice information. When readers locate articles and information important to their practice or interests, they can immediately share that material with colleagues via e-mail links available with the digital version. The unit’s clinical nurse specialist could share an article related to care of a new admission, managers could send informative articles to their staff, or preceptors could forward relevant papers to their orientees—all in a fraction of the time that photocopying or scanning that material would require.

  • Content planning based on reader interests. The digital medium can provide CCN staff with reader usage data that reflect content of greater interest to readers. In so doing, the CCN editor and staff can plan future issues to further address topic areas and practice issues that represent reader preferences and priorities.

  • Possible future capabilities such as links to related interactive sites. When reader interest in a topic area warrants, we may be able to add hyperlinks to relevant sites such as library databases, blogs, or social networking sites so that readers can access these directly. Although this feature is not currently available, we will be interested in hearing whether capabilities such as these would be useful to you.

Benefits as a CCN Subscriber

The digital edition of CCN will include the following features for CCN readers:

  • Look and feel of the print edition of CCN

  • Easy access to the digital edition of CCN via either the e-mail link sent for each issue or from the link located at CCN’s Web site (www.ccnonline.org)

  • Advance access to content in the print version—digital content is available as soon as the e-mail link arrives, so there’s no waiting for the postal service to deliver your copy

  • Ability to download a PDF of the digital edition

  • Quick navigation from the digital edition to other Internet sites via hyperlinked URLs and to e-mail addresses

  • Page flipping—readers can activate a page-flipping sound while reading the digital edition, whereas those who prefer a quiet read get their preference by default

  • Easy-to-read buttons in the navigation bar to modify the page view (zoom in or out)

  • Ability to store viewing preferences so the digital edition always displays as the reader prefers

  • Choose a 1- or 2-page view of the digital edition

  • Multimedia embellishments such as flash animation or embedded video or sound

  • Ability to bookmark pages of interest or flag selected pages, much like applying a sticky note

  • Ability to print selected pages from the digital edition for reading later

  • Immediate fulfillment of your CCN subscription with the latest issue as soon as your AACN membership or CCN subscription renewal is completed. Although all our subscribers will benefit from not having to wait weeks for the first issue of a new subscription to arrive, this advantage is especially helpful for international subscribers.

Benefits as an AACN Member

In addition to the enhancements already identified, the digital edition also affords a number of related benefits important to many AACN members.

  • Furthering AACN’s leadership in bringing cutting edge technologic advances to benefit members

  • Retention of CCN’s Web-based presence at www.ccnonline.org

  • Providing an alternative delivery format of CCN for members who prefer digital receipt

  • Providing an alternative delivery format of CCN that is environmentally friendly

  • Providing an alternative delivery format of CCN that has a much smaller carbon footprint

Tell Us What You Think About the Digital Edition

E-mail us at ccn@aacn.org and let us know what you think of this new delivery format that complements CCN’s print journal. Try it out and tell us what features you love, you like, you dislike, and you have difficulty using, and what features you’d like to see added.

For those of you new to digital presentation of professional journals, we’d welcome your feedback about the comparative benefits of digital versus print format. The digital edition represents an investment CCN has made for you, our readers, so please let us hear how we can enhance its value, appeal, ease of use, and utility for you as a critical care nurse, educator, preceptor, faculty, nurse practitioner, clinical specialist, manager, administrator, or researcher.