Newsletter of the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona

Report on MLA/SLA 2023: Connecting with Librarians, Learning Best Practices

Posted on May 30, 2023 by Angela Murrell | No Comments

by Deborah Farber, MLIS, AHIP (Provisional), 2023 Professional Development Award recipient

I attended MLA/SLA in Detroit with a couple of goals in mind: connect with other health sciences librarians and learn best practices to implement in research instructional sessions offered to students at the California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM). In two and a half days, I accomplished these goals and gained a fresh perspective of the profession.

My experience began with a chance encounter at Detroit Airport where I met two conference attendees. Quick introductions led to later conversations with one of the conference attendees. I felt even more connected when I joined a small group of MLGSCA members at the chapter table during the Communities/Chapters lunch event. I later joined chapter members for appetizers and dessert in the hotel restaurant.

The choice of sessions had broad appeal. However, I attended educational sessions that were relevant to my job responsibilities and career goals. I particularly enjoyed the session: “Teaching Critical Appraisal through Small Group Learning: a Systematic Review Class Approach”. The immersion session engaged participants in a process like the activity used in a real class. In groups, we used a modified version of the CASP Checklist to evaluate a systematic review. Next, each group collectively responded to presenters’ questions with “Yes”, “No” or “Hard to tell”. For comparison, the presenters highlighted key elements of a second systematic review to show the difference between well-written and flawed reviews. The discussion was lively among participants who believed that both articles were missing key elements.

I also attended the session on “Professional Competencies, information Literacy and You: Leveraging Curriculum Mapping to Advocate for Library Instruction. This session encouraged participants to utilize the competencies expected in different health professions to develop appropriate instructional sessions. We sat at tables divided into different health specialties to discuss ideas that might be implemented at our institutions. Though I didn’t come away from the session with any concrete strategies, the program solidified my commitment to embedding information literacy instruction into the EBM curriculum at CUSM.

Additionally, I attended the Research Training Institute (RTI) Poster Session. As an incoming RTI Fellow, I wanted to see the types of projects and presentations of current fellows. Attending the session energized me to forge ahead with renewed focus.

The last session I attended was a series of educational papers on “Whole-Task Assignment for Pre-Clinical Students: Assessing EBM Skills before Clerkships”; “Perceptions and Behaviours of First year Health Sciences Undergraduate Students Conducting Online Research”; and “How Do Medical Students Approach Critical Appraisal: results from a Mixed Methods Study”. The first paper featured one of the presenters from the earlier immersion session but emphasized a different part of the six-session first-year EBM curriculum at NYU Grossman School of Medicine first presented during immersion. I plan to implement a similar scenario-based activity during the EBM session I present in January 2024.

Ultimately, MLA/SLA was a worthwhile experience. I gained valuable ideas for integrating EBM into the existing curriculum and made meaningful connections with fellow attendees.


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