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What I Did This Summer: Evidence-Based Practice for Medical Librarians

This post was written by Stephanie Debner, one of the recipients of an ACRL-Oregon Professional Development Scholarship this year. In this post, she reflects on the professional development opportunity that was supported with this award.

Thanks to receiving a professional development scholarship from ACRL-Oregon, well as funding from the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, I was able to attend Supporting Clinical Care: An Institute in Evidence-Based Practice for Medical Librarians at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Health Sciences Library in Aurora, CO this July. This institute is an intensive three-day learning experience that focuses on the skills that health sciences/medical librarians need to support evidence-based practice. It combines large-group lectures and activities with lots of small group sessions that focus on hands-on learning and discussion.

This institute was an invaluable learning opportunity for me. I teach a class that focuses on the principles of evidence-based practice (EBP) and literature research skills in the College of Chiropractic at University of Western States. This class is the first in a series of EBP classes that the chiropractic students take, and is foundational to their understanding of EBP principles and starting to think clinically. While I had familiarized myself with the concepts that I have been teaching, this institute really allowed me to take a deep dive into the concepts and putting them into practice. My first action item for bringing this learning back to my institution is to retool this class for the next time I teach it in winter term 2019. I also expect this learning to inform changes that I make to one-shot sessions in other EBP classes.

One key focus of the institute was on critical appraisal of research evidence, with a focus on randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews. I realized that this content would be particularly valuable to bring back to the UWS library, as we work with chiropractic students who have critically appraised topic assignments in the beginning of their clinical training. I plan to develop a resource to share with my colleagues that will help us to work with students on this assignment more effectively.

Not only did I have the opportunity to learn from the institute’s tutors, many of whom have years of experience with this institute and in teaching EBP, but I also had the opportunity to learn from my fellow attendees, many of whom are experience medical or health sciences librarians. Through small group sessions and talking with colleagues who participate in systematic review teams at their institutions, I picked up tips and skills for doing better literature searches to support faculty research interests at my own institution.

An additional benefit from the institute pertains to my own teaching. Since one of the purposes of the institute is training librarians to feel comfortable in teaching EBP at their institutions, there was also a focus on modeling different teaching methods and activities to teach this content. I noted several different ideas to bring back to the classroom, particularly ways that would facilitate class participation and on-the-fly assessment of student learning. One of these ideas was lower-tech: giving each student three different emoji on half-sheets of paper that they could hold up to indicate opinions on specific questions, and that the instruction could use to facilitate conversations about those opinions. Another idea was a little more high-tech: the use of Plickers to get real-time data from students, without the need for clickers or having the students go to a specific website. Good stuff!

Many thanks to ACRL-Oregon for supporting this opportunity and to the State Library of Oregon for the matching professional development funds that doubled the funds available to me from ACRL-Oregon.

 

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