Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Library Instruction in Medical Education: A Survey of Current Practices in the United States and Canada

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Library Instruction in Medical Education: A Survey of Current Practices in the United States and Canada

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Studies dating back to the 1930s have shown libraries playing a role in medical education [1], and a well-maintained library with staff responsive to a school's needs is a requirement for accreditation of medical schools by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) [2]. Historically, libraries have addressed this requirement of responsiveness by providing instruction on efficient access to medical information, with the rationale that students who are able to quickly locate and retrieve relevant information will have more time to evaluate and absorb this information and will better retain it during and after their courses and exams.

To investigate how and how often such library instruction is delivered to medical students, Earl conducted a survey of 123 US medical school libraries in 1996 [3], and Eldredge et al. conducted a 2013 regional update, surveying 17 medical school libraries in the western United States [4]. These 2 surveys showed that instructional content that libraries provided covered topics such as use of literature databases and citation management software, professional writing, and critical evaluation and was provided in a variety of formats including workshops, lectures, virtual instruction, and orientation sessions. While providing valuable information, the 1996 study is now outdated, and the 2013 update did not cover the entire United States. Therefore, the authors conducted a new survey with 2 initial aims: (1) to update the original Earl study and (2) to expand its coverage to include Canada, as both US and Canadian medical schools are accredited by the LCME (Canadian schools are accredited jointly by the LCME and the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools).

While analyzing the survey data, we also became interested in identifying any differences in library instruction between libraries affiliated with medical schools in the United States and Canada or between libraries affiliated with highly ranked and unranked medical schools. While we expected there to be no differences between US and Canadian libraries, we hypothesized that more highly ranked medical schools would be more likely to have libraries reporting a high level of participation in the medical school, with the logic that highly ranked medical schools would be more likely to value and incorporate interprofessional education.

METHODS

The 2014 LCME list of accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada [5] was consulted to identify a survey population of 157 accredited schools (there were 158 accredited schools in 2014, but 1 was accidentally left off the list by the research team). A search of each school's library website was performed, and best efforts were made to identify a contact who was responsible for education programming. During this process, 2 pairs of schools were found to share libraries (4 schools and 2 libraries in total), leaving 155 contacts. One library listed no electronic contact information and was not sent a survey. Therefore, the total number of contacts was 154.

Consulting previous research, we developed a twenty-eight-question survey with a mixture of qualitative and quantitative questions (supplemental Appendix A). To ensure compliance with institutional guidelines, a draft was sent to Boston University's Institutional Review Board, which ruled the project exempt on the basis that it was not human subjects research. Google Forms was selected as the survey platform. The survey began with an initial statement of risks and benefits as well as a definition of six terms used in the questions (asynchronous library instruction, synchronous library instruction, formal library instruction sessions, informal library instruction sessions, curriculum-integrated library instruction, non-curriculum-integrated library instruction).

The survey was sent to contacts via email on December 17, 2014. Reminder emails were sent on January 13, 2015, and January 29, 2015, with the official close date listed as January 31, 2015. …

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