Development of a Post-Master's Online Certificate in Health Sciences Librarianship*[dagger]
Saghafi, Ester, Tannery, Nancy H., Epstein, Barbara A., Alman, Susan, Tomer, Christinger, Journal of the Medical Library Association
Health sciences librarians function in environments that are constantly undergoing rapid and drastic changes in a range of divergent arenas, including scientific, technological, social, political, and financial changes. To keep up with these changes, health sciences librarians require lifelong learning opportunities. The Medical Library Association (MLA) recommends that library educators provide opportunities and programs to meet the librarians' need to ''retool their skills'' throughout their professional careers .
In this brief communication, the authors describe the process of developing and implementing an online, fifteen-credit, post-master's certificate of advanced study in health sciences librarianship (HealthCAS) and the steps we followed during this process.
The University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) supports the educational, research, clinical, and service activities of the health sciences community of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), through innovative information resources and services. The School of Information Sciences (SIS) at the University of Pittsburgh is one of the nation's pioneering schools in the education of information professionals, with a history that reaches back more than 100 years. Its master of library and information science (MLIS) degree program is ranked tenth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report . Currently, more than 800 students are enrolled at SIS.
In 2001, SIS began offering an online MLIS degree program, called FastTrack MLIS. Since its inception, FastTrack has enabled more than 400 students from 35 states to work toward their MLIS degrees. The FastTrack program is designed so that students can advance through the program in a cohort, replicating the on-campus environment. This cohort design allows students to interact with each other and with the faculty, even though the program is delivered asynchronously. The addition of the HealthCAS augmented the offerings of this very successful online degree program.
In December 2008, HSLS and SIS partnered to apply for funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support the development and implementation of the HealthCAS program. The 3- year grant, for $991,311, was awarded in June 2009. The grant from IMLS supported the costs of curriculum development and evaluation, online course delivery infrastructure, and student recruitment. In addition, the grant provided tuition and travel scholarships for students throughout the United States for the first 2-3 years of the program. Librarians who desire entry- to mid-level health sciences library positions, seek additional knowledge and skills, or practice outside the health sciences and wish to pursue entry into the specialty; hospital librarians in rural and remote areas who do not have ready access to continuing education programs; and underrepresented minority librarians in the health sciences were identified as the primary audience for the program.
There were many critical steps in developing the online fifteen-credit HealthCAS program. These included course development, selection of instructors, instructional design support, and marketing and recruitment of students.
After a petition to the University of Pittsburgh for permission to offer the HealthCAS program was approved, a task force of HSLS librarians participated in a series of brainstorming sessions to identify topics to be covered in the curriculum. The MLA educational policy statement, Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success, was used as a basis for curriculum development . Topics were then grouped into appropriate courses to be offered over three terms (Table 1, online only). The curriculum consists of the following courses:
* Term I: ''The Healthcare Environment'' (4 credits): Examines the health care environment; the main players; and internal and external factors such as finances, regulations, and legislation as they affect and drive the provision and delivery of library and information services in this environment. …