The Journey from Health Disparities to Health Equity by Lisa Adriani

June 13, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Medical Library Association annual meeting in Atlanta was a great opportunity to see many of my own NAHSL colleague’s presentations, meet new people, and learn new things. I have decided to share an overview of the meetings last speaker, Dr. David Satcher since I think his presentation is worthy to note.

One theme that kept appearing during the conference was diversity, inclusion and disparities. It was woven through the conference and on the last day Dr. David Satcher gave a talk entitled “The Journey from Health Disparities to Health Equity.” It focused on eliminating disparities in health in different race and ethnic groups. David Satcher was undoubtedly qualified to speak on the topic as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States among many other qualifications.

He started by mentioning that mistakes of the past such as Tuskegee study must not happen again. He spoke about Healthy People 2010, which had two goals: to increase years and quality of life and eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.

He continued by explaining the importance of social determinants. Social determinants of health are conditions in which people are born, grow, live work and age. He said, “Zip code is more important than your genetic code.” They are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at the global, national and local levels.

Policy changes are required for changes in social determinants of health. Some good examples of how policy changes effect social determinants happened with tobacco industry. Tobacco used to be advertised on television, children used to be able to buy cigarettes and smoking was allowed almost everywhere notably in restaurants. Today things are different. “Information is power. It can be used to save lives.”

He stressed that he could not talk about health disparities without talking about health equity. Health equity goes one-step further than equality. It gives everyone the same opportunity to be healthier. It is giving people what they need when they need it in order to be healthy.


He mentioned that Healthy People 2020 now has four goals. They are 1) Attain high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death; 2) Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups; 3) Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all; 4) Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages.

We still have a long way to go to achieve health equity to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of all groups. One area of particular concern of Satcher’s is mental health. Mental disorders are disabling as cancer and heart disease. It contributes to premature death and lost work productivity.

The Affordable Care Act helped move things in the right direction with expanding mental health and substance abuse disorder coverage. It has mandated mental health plans must cover preventive services like depression screening for adults and behavioral assessments for children at no cost. Also in 2014, plans are no longer able to deny coverage or charge more due to preexisting conditions.

Additionally, the relationship between physical activity and mental health is strong. Activity reduces depression, elevates mood, improves mental acuity, improves sleeping, and reduces stress and anxiety.

He used this slide to illustrate the relationship physical activity and the brain.


In the end, Satcher said that in order to eliminate disparities in health we need leaders. He emphasized the need for leadership: “In order to eliminate disparities in health, we need leaders who care enough, know enough, will do enough and are persistent enough.”

Finally, he ended with a poem attributed to Dr. Benjamin Mays. Perhaps this was to urge us against complacency and encourage us to join in the fight to eliminate health disparities.


God’s Minute

I have just one minute

Only sixty seconds in it,

Forced upon me—can’t refuse it

Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,

But it’s up to me to use it.

I must suffer if I lose it,

Give account if I abuse it.

Just a tiny little minute—

But eternity is in it.


Thank you to NAHSL for the MLA Annual Meeting Scholarship!


AAMC Urges Support of the Opioid Workforce Act of 2018

June 11, 2018 at 8:43 am | Posted in Advocacy and Gov't Relations, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently released a statement urging people to support the Opioid Workforce Act of 2018 (H.R. 5818, S.2843). The act, sponsored by Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), would provide support for:

“…an additional 1,000 graduate medical education positions over the next five years in hospitals that have, or are in the process of establishing, accredited residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management, strengthening the health care workforce serving on the front lines of the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

You can read more about the act and watch a series of educational webinars by going to this page on the AAMC website. You can also send a letter to members of Congress urging them to co-sponsor the bill by going to this page and filling out a short form.

[Submitted by Gary Atwood, Chair, NAHSL Govt. Relations Comm.]

Framework, Stats, Wolves and CSRs, oh my! A MLA ’18 Conference Report by Beth Dyer

June 8, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Longitudinal Library Curricular Integration and the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Framework” May 21, 10:45-10:50 am.

Like fellow NAHSL member Janene Batten, I was impressed by a presentation linking the ACRL Framework to teaching.  The Framework is something that I am aware of, spent some time with, and left it sort of lurking in the background as an ambiguous structure to know about but not do much with. The old competencies were so concrete; this is not! So kudos to anyone who has taken the time to figure out how to solidly link the concepts in a tangible way to teaching, and share it with the rest of us.

Librarians at the Taubman Health Sciences Library are creating a “holistic view of longitudinal library learning” by mapping the framework to session objectives as well as health science school competencies. They use a single spreadsheet with metadata about each session taught, and map the session objectives to the framework and to the school’s educational competency requirements. They created a “mapping glossary” to help standardize the effort and create “consensus mapping”.

Perhaps this is a no-brainer to some of us, but is a relatively simple technique I have not considered before now.  We already maintain a spreadsheet with metadata about each session taught and have kept this spreadsheet continually for over ten years, mostly to track trends. For each session we record the College, course number and title, faculty partner, name of teaching librarian, scheduling info, content, and number of students.  Over time, we can see patterns in the teaching and identify gaps, changes, and opportunities. We use some of the metrics in our reports.

Adding columns to link each session with College or program competencies, and mapping them to the ACRL Framework, would be ideal. It would require a fair amount of set-up time but would become easier with time and offer a big pay-off.  The culture of assessment continues to gain momentum and importance in libraries and the organizations in which they lie. For the past few years we’ve submitted an annual report to our University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment with concrete examples linking library services and instruction to student outcomes. Enhancing our spreadsheet would make this work easier and serve as an excellent archive of library services as they relate to ACRL and College or program-level competencies.

 “Nurturing Statistical Literacy in Medical Students” May 22, 3:35-3:50 pm.

A librarian from Michigan State U Libraries gave an enthusiastic and provocative presentation on statistical literacy.  He took time to become an expert in “practical biostats”, worked with faculty to redesign the EBM curriculum, and has expanded his role into teacher of critical appraisal skills. His aim is to give medical students the tools they need to make sense of the numbers in the research literature, and he maps content to questions on the USMLE and COMLEX (there’s that mapping again!).  He advocates that “more than just searching, (librarians) deepen our skillset and bring new areas of expertise to programs.” He does not teach PubMed or other searching, and says he is “source-agnostic.”  He is not a fan of evidence pyramids and tables as he feels they lead to “methodolatry” (isn’t that a fun word?).

I was impressed and at the same time perplexed by this presentation, as it turns much of the library’s role in teaching EBM on its head. While I agree statistical literacy is important and this inspires me to strengthen my skills, at my institution, biostatistics tends to be taught by faculty in various research courses. Disregarding the source of a research article makes me uneasy, with increasing corruption in research and publication including fraud and plagiarism, especially in light of another presentation at MLA that looked at the presence of predatory journals in databases and repositories (see next!).

“Wolf in the Fold: Quality of Databases and Digital Repositories Post-Beall’s List” May 21, 2:05-2:20 pm.

I was so looking forward to this presentation and for various reasons did not get there. There had been discussion about it on MEDLIB-L before the conference. Per the slides, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison looked at all publishers in Beall’s List that had been on there at least three consecutive years as of Fall 2016. They culled out publishers with titles in the health sciences then sought to find the journals themselves, of which they found 1189.

They chose one article from each journal published around January 2015 then looked for the presence of the 1189 articles in: PubMed, MEDLINE, PMC, Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus, and Primo Central Index (their library’s discovery tool). From highest presence to lowest, they found 67% of the articles in Google Scholar, 47% in Primo, 6% in Scopus, 3% in both PubMed and PMC, and 2% in Web of Science. In PubMed MEDLINE they found 3 articles (0.2%).

I am not surprised that they found the most articles from these potentially fraudulent journals in Google Scholar, and not really surprised about the discovery tool, but slightly disheartened by the others. I do feel this study supports the need to teach users to use databases that vet journals for inclusion versus Google Scholar etc. Despite small intrusions, they are doing the best they can to offer quality information from reputable journals. However, perhaps the published literature will lose some significance to EBM in the future (see next!).

“Sunrise Seminar: Cochrane ‘Inside/Outside’: Update from Carol Lefebvre” May 20, 2018, 7:00-8:55 am.

This is my second MLA conference and second sunrise seminar with Cochrane, and I will make it a point to attend each time, as I always learn a lot.  SR teams have always strived to include both published and unpublished data, but I learned that when possible, Cochrane review groups are really focusing on use of CSR’s – Clinical Study Reports – which are full internal reports from groups conducting clinical studies, mostly unpublished. A practice-changing SR about Tamiflu (doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008965.pub4) started it all and Cochrane groups continue to push in this direction. A side note is that Cochrane had ambitious plans to be open access by 2020 but it will be a longer-term goal than planned due to the need to ensure sustainability for the organization.

Thank You to NAHSL for helping me attend MLA ’18!

Lightning Talks: You Can Learn a Lot in a Little — Reflections on MLA 2018 by Sally Gore

June 5, 2018 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanks to the NAHSL Professional Development Committee and to all of the NAHSL members who contribute to the scholarship fund, I was able to receive a scholarship to help off-set some of the cost of attending MLA 2018 in Atlanta last week. The meeting was tremendous, the city just fabulous (visit sometime, if you haven’t already), and the time to network and socialize with colleagues and friends was as terrific as ever. Attending MLA, for me, is a vital aspect of my professional growth and professional service. I gain so much each year that I’m able to go; so much that I can bring back to my job, including a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the work that we all do.

The plenary sessions, the poster sessions, the special content sessions (I gave one of these, myself), the Section and SIG meetings … I could reflect on any of a number of things related to these, but instead, I want to share some of the amazing resources and tools that I learned via several lightning talks and the very popular session, My Favorite Tool. Regarding the latter, one of my favorite tools is Twitter and its usefulness during meetings like MLA, i.e. meetings where there are so many concurrent sessions that it’s impossible to be every place you want to be at the same time. I couldn’t make the entire Favorite Tool session, but thanks to all of the Tweeters at MLA, I was able to keep up with the offerings that I missed and follow-up on them after the meeting (#MyFavTool2018). Great stuff! Really! So, without further ado, here are some of the more interesting things I stumbled upon via these short talks:

  • People Graph App in Excel – Turn the data in a table into an instant infographic using this cool app for Excel.
  • Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan, work on developing a Precision Health Toolkit that provides different layers of data for both researchers and the community, based on the Precision Medicine Initiative of NIH.
  • The MDPhD app for quickly summarizing and organizing clinical abstracts.
  • PollEverywhere is a great tool for quickly retrieving and visualizing audience response.
  • Slack is a web-based project management and project team communication tool. I’ve never used it, but it looked useful.
  • Jupyter Notebook received positive response among Tweeters as a handy, open-source tool for sharing documents that contain live code.
  • PubMedReMiner is definitely a tool that I’m going to play with in my work. It’s a text-mining tool that mines the gazillion abstracts in PubMed. Librarians at Temple University are using this tool in the systematic review process. Pretty cool!
  • Workflowy was presented as a good tool to help you organize your tasks, lists, to-dos, and the like. The nesting/branching feature is pretty nice.

There were many other tools and a lot more tips from sessions, but these are a few highlights from my notes. I really appreciate the format of the lightning talks and the Favorite Tool sessions. Having lightning talks during each of the session times was really effective for allowing many people to participate and to share an awful lot of interesting and useful information. It also allowed for ease in sharing tips via Twitter and other social media platforms. It’s an aspect of an annual MLA meeting unheard of just a few short years ago.

Thanks again for the scholarship. As one who doesn’t have any travel funds available with my job, the support of NAHSL is really something that I’m very grateful for.



MLA’18 Conference Report by Janene Batten

June 4, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MLA ’18 Conference session attended

Monday :: Special Content Session :: 10:30 – 11:55


From Abstract to Tangible: Shifting Health Sciences Instructional Mindsets using the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy

Program Description: This special content session will work to explore the abstract concepts of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy to create tangible, practical ideas for modifying common instructional situations. Built upon key concepts recently presented in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Toolkit and modeling the Understanding by Design concepts, the session will inspire health sciences librarians to critically think about their teaching approaches and leave with fresh ideas to better engage their constituents.
Always interested in how I can better teach, I went to this session intrigued with how the “new” ACRL Framework (ACRL, 2016) could assist with my health sciences teaching goals. The Framework includes six core concepts, frames, which are thought of as “gateways” to a person’s information literacy. As the “teacher” knowing about and addressing the frames is central to ensuring that our learners become more expert consumers and creators of information. The Framework is a complex document, and ACRL recommends becoming familiar with the frames so that we incorporate the concepts into our own teaching. The underlying premise is that teaching becomes “student-centered” with educators becoming facilitators (rather than givers of information) and learners become participants (rather than simply listeners). Teaching this way can seem to be more involved but the goal is to allow the learner to become more a part of their learning within in their own scaffolding of understanding and to ultimately become lifelong learners.

“The Framework opens the way for librarians, faculty, and other institutional partners to redesign instruction sessions, assignments, courses, and even curricula; to connect information literacy with student success initiatives; to collaborate on pedagogical research and involve students themselves in that research; and to create wider conversations about student learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the assessment of learning on local campuses and beyond.” (ACRL, p.3).

All of this was making theoretical sense to me, listening and nodding knowingly.  And then the presenter revealed the slide Framework Meets Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) I was immediately able to relate it to what we as librarians do on a day-to-day basis.  And that’s when I knew I wanted to share it with you.


The EBP cycle … and the six concepts of the Framework as they relate to the cycle.  It’s simple, and we know this off by heart.

Next steps?  Take some time to look into the Framework document. It outlines the meaning of each of the six concepts, as well as includes Knowledge Practices and Dispositions which outline practical, but not prescriptive, things to do to incorporate the Framework into our day to day teaching opportunities.  If you haven’t already, talk with others in your library about

For those of you that are able to access the MLA ’18 program this is the link to the entire session presentation , and the video recording


Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL), (2016). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from

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