The Massachusetts Library System received an inquiry in our continuing education survey about what hospital and medical librarians do. In response, I’m pleased to bring you an interview with Sarah Carnes, the Clinical Librarian at the Bedford VA Medical Center. In this interview, she will share the numerous ways she supports clinical research and contributes to improving the patient experience.
Sarah Carnes, Clinical Librarian
What services do you provide to support the wide-ranging needs of Bedford VA Medical Center’s staff?
As the Clinical Librarian at the Bedford VA Medical Center, I provide support to staff working in a wide variety of disciplines. Clinical and research staff must be current on information in order to conduct evidence-based care and impactful research. The majority of our resources are available online in our Knowledge Library, our user-friendly online medical library platform. Staff also have access to these materials when offsite as many will conduct their in-depth reading outside of normal working hours.
Research shows that for all the
convenience of electronic health records, telemedicine, and online medical
libraries, there is not enough time in the day for providers to keep up with all
the information they wish to access. Clinical librarians possess the expertise
to mitigate the barriers between staff and the information they need. Staff
request information or assistance via email, phone or in-person. Some of the
requests are fulfilled relatively quickly, such as a request for the full-text
of an article or information on how to set up a literature alert or offsite
account. Others take a great deal more time, such as complex literature
searches for differential diagnoses or for systematic reviews–which might take
anywhere between three to nine hours. Over the course of the last year and a
half, I have completed over 600 searches and reference questions and I estimate
that saved staff approximately 450 hours.