How Librarians Can Help Healthcare Professionals

I recently wrote a blog post for NEJM Resident 360 (NEJM subscription required) about how residents can better utilize librarian services.  How to Take Advantage Your Medical Librarian, details a few of the common ways librarians can help doctors during their residency program and beyond.  As a medical librarian, I know there are a lot of other things we can do for residents and other healthcare professionals.  There are medical librarians who are doing different types of services, reaching out to provide information in creative ways, and doing things beyond the walls of the library that help our healthcare professionals in ways I have never dreamed.

So this post is sort of a “shared” post.  I would like any medical librarian to either comment below, tweet, or email* me the ways you help your healthcare professionals.  Healthcare professionals can be anyone (doctor, student, nurse, researchers, social work, pastoral care, hospital administration, etc.) that work with biomedical information, patients or families of patients, or who help fellow healthcare professionals in their jobs.

I will kick things off:

  • Create online journal club portals for nurses, enabling them to get CEs
  • Acquire spiritual & religious resources from other libraries to help pastoral care
  • Track every article written in a journal with an impact factor by the institution’s researchers & authors and provide those statistics, citation analysis, and collaboration impact to individuals and departments within the institution.
  • Help create treatment and care guidelines within the institution and with national associations.

Don’t leave me hanging…. contact me and I will add them to the bullet list. IF you have online documentation (research, website, article) give me the URL and I will link to that within the bullet point.
*email
krafty[atsign]kraftylibrarian[dotcom]
If you are a member of MLA use my email contact in the MLA directory

 

“85% of biomedical research is wasted” and librarians

First to the rather disturbing 85% figure. This originates from a 2009 Lancet article that suggests much research is wasted due to asking the wrong questions, being badly designed, being not published, being poorly reported and more. The paper has been cited some 400 times in Google Scholar which indicates that it is an area of interest and concern.

So where where do librarians fit in? A recent paper (“Impactful librarians : identifying opportunities to increase your impact”) suggests that they can play a very important role in improving research quality in their organisations. At the same time, this will help raise the profile and value of clinical librarians, which is increasingly important in the current economic climate.

Shona Kirtley, from the University of Oxford in the UK, outlines a number of steps that librarians can pro actively take to achieve some of these desirable outcomes. 16 possible actions are handily summarised in the article, and no doubt there are other approaches which can be adopted.

To highlight just one area as an example, one aspect of research inefficiency is in the reporting of research methods and results. Reporting guidelines, which often take the form of check-lists or flow diagrams, have been developed to improve reporting of various study types, such as randomised controlled trials (CONSORT), systematic reviews (PRISMA), observational studies (STROBE), case reports (CASE) and so on. As clinical librarians are often in contact with researchers, they are ideally placed to promote awareness of guidelines such as these. For instance, this could be when a clinician requests a search for research, during training classes, on the library website etc.

It is valuable to have a look at the EQUATOR Network site which provides online access to numerous reporting guidelines; searchable by study type and/or clinical speciality. Just making researchers aware of this site alone would significantly contribute to research quality.

My own country Australia has just become the fourth member of the network worldwide, following the United Kingdom, Canada and France. There is a Librarian section of the EQUATOR Network if you would like to be involved in establishing it in your own country or contributing generally. Another site focussed on preventing research waste is The Reward Alliance.

In short, the Kirtley paper is well worth printing off and reading, giving as it does much food for thought and outlining potential opportunities for librarians to have a positive and valued impact on biomedical research.

Comments, suggestions, tips, anecdotes etc welcome below,

– Rob

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

At the beginning of last year I was asked to design and teach a new course with one of the nursing instructors that would teach students how to write professionally and value inter-professional communication. As an academic librarian for nursing and health sciences, I do a lot of teaching as part of my day to day role, but I had never taught an eight week course. And, not since before library school had I taught anything that wasn’t directly related to libraries or where I was not in the role of librarian.

My co-instructor and I spent months matching readings, assignments, and assessments to learning objectives and the course that emerged was a cross-listed nursing and health sciences elective titled Basics of APA Writing for Healthcare. In the course, students learn to evaluate research, ethically use sources in their writing, and practice formal, persuasive writing, all while exploring a current healthcare communication issue and evidence-based practice. Many of these are topics I cover with students ordinarily as their librarian, but instead of teaching them in bits and pieces throughout various classes, I get to teach them all in sequence in a condensed time frame and reinforce the material as I go.

Teaching with a nurse educator is the perfect balance; we are learning from each other’s perspectives on active learning, information literacy, and library research. Talking to each other for hours each week teaches each of us about the other’s expertise and helps us each value the other’s role in healthcare education. And students benefit from having two instructors with varied proficiencies. We can teach both theory and practice, catch different mistakes, counter each other’s biases, and improve our communication. Through our teaching partnership we give students an ongoing example of how interdisciplinary collaboration can improve practice, a lesson they will hopefully take with them into their healthcare professions.

I am still learning as I go, but this has been an invaluable experience so far. My goal for this year is to seek out other interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities for myself and the library.

Poop is OK!

Written at last week’s Internet Librarian 2015 Conference

A conference’s opening keynote address is kind of like the first day of school. You sit excitedly wondering what the experience is going to bring, anxiously chatting with your neighbor about what sessions you plan to attend. Looking around you size up the crowd: the diehard tweeters in the front, the laid-back cool kids leisurely skimming their conference programs, and the super hip girl in the back row wearing red tights who you hope will be your new best friend. As we settled into our seats in the hotel ballroom, we expected a lot. No pressure, but the opening session lays the foundation for the rest of the conference.

The opening keynote address at this year’s Internet Librarian 2015 Conference did not disappoint. The panel of female entrepreneurs discussed the topic “Exploring Roles & Directions: Creating, Failing, Learning.” Ilana Ben-Ari of Twenty One Toys, Liza Conrad of Hopscotch, and Erin Mulcahy of littleBits discussed their experiences in start-ups and how what they’ve learned can transfer to the library world.

One highlight from the panel is when Lisa Conrad from Hopscotch, an app that teaches kids coding through building games, told the story of a teacher who said there was inappropriate material on the app. She complained that her students were using the poop emoji too much, and she was deleting the app. Worried, the folks at Hopscotch banded together to find a solution to the problem. After some thought, they soon realized there wasn’t a problem. The kids were using the app and learning how to code – that’s the whole goal! They concluded that poop is OK. If the users like poop, then they should have poop!

What can librarians take away from this anecdote? The Hopscotch staff looked at the situation through the lens of the user. They asked the questions, “Who is this helping? Who is this serving? What do they want?” They based their choices on the people who matter most – their users. As librarians, it’s easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day and forget who we serve. Like at Hopscotch, we need to reevaluate the standards people hold us to and remember why we’re here- for our users.