Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Evaluation of a Health Sciences Internship for Latino and Native American Library Students

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Evaluation of a Health Sciences Internship for Latino and Native American Library Students

Article excerpt


Reducing health disparities by improving health information access for underserved minorities and health professionals who serve them has long been one of the key objectives of health librarianship [1]. A related objective is to attract members of underrepresented minority groups into the library field. Latinos and Native Americans are currently the most underrepresented minority groups in library and information science [2].

This case study presents an evaluation of and lessons learned from a graduate-level professional development and tuition assistance internship at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Library (UAHSL) for Latino and Native American students or for students who are interested in serving those populations. The internship, sponsored by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), is available to library science students enrolled in the Knowledge River (KR) program, an educational fellowship for students committed to addressing the information needs of Latino and Native American populations .

UAHSL serves the University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health, and works in partnership with Banner-University Medical Center (a teaching hospital). In addition, its resources and services, including extensive outreach programs, are available to community members statewide. Between 2003 and 2015, NLM support enabled UAHSL to provide yearlong internship placements to twelve cohorts of twenty-five KR students, with one to three students participating each year. The objectives of the internships are to attract KR students to health sciences librarianship, improve their understanding of the field by giving them practical experience, and expose them to career opportunities. UAHSL also feels that KR students would enrich the ongoing UAHSL outreach projects with their cultural and linguistic expertise.


The authors sought to determine the impact of the internship on participants':

1. awareness of the field of health sciences librarianship and understanding of career opportunities,

2. interest in careers in medical and health information librarianships, and

3. actual career trajectories.

In addition, we were interested in exploring how participants' interest in serving Latino and Native American communities interacted with their internship experiences.


The protocol was exempt from internal review board review by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Human Subjects Research.


A list of twenty-five program participants, including their email addresses at the time of graduation, was obtained from UAHSL. One of the authors (Quasem) emailed all participants at the provided email addresses, as well as addresses found via Internet searches. Thirteen program participants responded and agreed to participate. The authors could not determine how many of the remaining twelve were not reached because inquiries were sent to outdated addresses and how many chose not to respond.


Of the thirteen, one participant each were from the fourth and fifth cohorts; two participants each were from the seventh, eleventh, and twelfth cohorts; and three participants were from the eighth cohort. Nine participants self-identified as Latino and two as Native Americans. Five were male, and eight were female. One author (Quasem) also conducted telephone interviews with the UAHSL director and deputy director, who were instrumental in establishing and maintaining the program.


The semi-structured interview guide for the interns focused on their pre-internship backgrounds (educational and professional experience, career plans, awareness of health sciences librarianship, interest in working with Native Americans and Latinos, awareness of health concerns in Latino and Native American communities); internship experience (tasks; interests, knowledge, and skills acquired; networking and mentorship; perceived strengths and limitations of the internships); and post-internship experience (career trajectory). …

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