Back in the Heart of the Commonwealth

My season of meetings continued with the annual Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting for the National Networks of Libraries of Medicine–New England Region (NN/LM-NER), held on Nov 21 at UMass-Medical in Worcester, MA (the Heart of the Commonwealth).  This was a brainstorming session on future directions for health sciences libraries.  In the morning, we heard from Richard Pieters, MD, Jean King, PhD and Lily Hsu, EdD.  Each of these speakers represented a different work environment.  Dr. Pieters (UMass Memorial Health Care) spoke to the physician-patient relationship, and the types of support required by physicians in the rapidly Snowy Treechanging health care world.  Dr. King (UMass Medical School) talked about the research team and the burgeoning need to manage Big Data.  Dr. Hsu (Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) addressed the needs of health sciences students, with particular attention on interprofessional education.  Their presentations sparked our thought processes.  After a break, we heard from six health sciences library directors from across New England.  Each spoke of their most recent triumphs and challenges.

After lunch, we had table discussions about future directions for the NN/LM-NER.  What do librarians want?  Continuing education, mostly.  One intriguing idea was a database of librarians’ projects, so we can seek advise from our colleagues when we are contemplating a project of our own.

Before my next outing to UMass-Medical, we got walloped by a snowstorm.  With guests for Thanksgiving and no electricity, my husband and I got creative with cooking.

By Dec 4, we were shoveled out and well on the way to melting.  I was back on the road to Worcester for Take Action: Be a Health Literacy Hero, a continuing education opportunity arranged by the NN/LM-NER Health Literacy COI.  Helen Osborne, of Health Literacy Consulting, spoke to a roomful of people working in health literacy– librarians from hospitals, colleges and public libraries, as well as employees from ConsumerMedical and the nurse educator from a county sheriff’s department.

The morning was devoted to exploring concepts and definitions of health literacy.  Helen emphasized that the latest definition of health literacy explores both sides of communication (health care provider > patient, patient > health care provider).  This is a more balanced definition, and reminds me of all those Interpersonal Communication lectures that I sat through as an undergraduate at UMass/Amherst.  Health literacy is NOT just about what the patient doesn’t understand.  We need to acknowledge that health care providers don’t understand what is being communicated by patients and families.

Schramm Model of Communication

Schramm’s Model of Communication, 1954

After Helen’s introductory talk, a panel of librarians shared their health literacy projects.  Irena Bond, (Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), Margo Coletti (Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, MA), Anne Connor (Littleton Regional Healthcare, NH) and Nancy Goodwin (Middlesex Hospital, CT) offered real life advice and encouragement.

After lunch, Helen lead us through a brainstorming exercise.  This was a great opportunity to talk with the folks at my table–always my favorite part of any in-person event.

To watch archived webinars from the Health Literacy COI, check out this webpage.