This is my second post about elevating Health Sciences Libraries and Librarians in India. Here I would like to share an example from an article in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (USA) – about a study by a librarian and his medical colleagues. (Read my first post here)
This article discusses how a health sciences librarian conducted an introductory course on EBM for first year medical students and how he specifically did an intervention to improve their ability to “formulate an answerable question”.
Asking an answerable question is an art that one learns with practice and of course the right learning. The librarian worked on this, with a team of physicians. The study explains how they helped 107 medical students evolve in this area! The article interestingly also discusses whether the PICO elements of a question are really useful or not. The authors mention that among all questions relating to evidence, the PICO is useful for therapy based questions only (as it has “Intervention” as an element). They refer to studies that show that PICO format is not necessarily as good as it is made out to be. Interesting!
What I would like to stress is the elevated level at which a medical librarian could be involved in an academic / clinical institution. This librarian has gone way beyond what we expect medical librarians to do in India. We sadly have “under-expectations”. And again I would like to stress – that we need to not just revise the expectations, but ensure that we rewrite job descriptions, salaries and training needs. I am aware of “Informationists” in the developed countries (librarians by training) who undergo courses in Epidemiology and more, so that they go on rounds with clinical teams and find the necessary evidence at the patient’s bedside. This is the level we need to work towards. Creating a new breed of librarians – turn them into informationists.
Coming back to this article – this is about a teaching role and again I stress, a must do.
Do read this article – Eldredge J, Schiff MA, Langsjoen JO, Jerabek RN. Question formulation skills training using a novel rubric with first-year medical students. J Med Libr Assoc. 2021 Jan 1;109(1):68-74. PMID – 33424466