MEDLIB-L Archives

May 2001, Week 2


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Pauline Beam <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tue, 8 May 2001 12:50:26 -0400
text/plain (61 lines)
     Dear Medlib-L colleagues:

     I am a new medial librarian and have also been an RN for 20 years.  I
     would like to clarify a distinction between the nurse's legal
     responsibility as health educator, and the librarian's role as
     knowledge navigator. I think this distintion has been overlooked in the
     debate over credentialing.

     Nurses (and other licensed health care practitioners) provide
     instruction which constitutes medical advice.  They are responsible for
     communicating accurate information, interpreting it, making sure that
     the patient/patron/consumer understands it, and encouraging the patient
     to comply with the instructions.  They are legally accountable for the
     information they provide, and may be sued for malpractice if harm
     results from their failure to provide intelligible instruction.

     Librarians and information specialists are responsible for identifying
     authoritative, accurate information and organizing it so that it is
     accessible. Medical librarians could play a valuable role by
     collecting and organizing patient education materials, appropriate for
     consumers at varying levels of information literacy, for use by
     patient educators. In my personal experience, we nurses managed this
     ourselves as best we could.

     Medical librarians also have an important role to play in providing good
     quality consumer health information for those who do not want (all) their
     information mediated by professional caregivers, or who want more
     information than the basics that time strapped caregivers often can
     provide. We should be educating patients on how to access CHI, and how to
     identify accurate, authoritative information. The consumer is then
     responsible for self education with information that we make accessable.

     In short, the librarian role in patient education could be one of
     providing information to the educators and to the "health consumer", and
     educating both about the information, but it is not one of *health
     educator*.  If we do not take it upon ourselves to provide information
     services, we should not be surprised when others respond to the consumer
     health information explosion by trying to figure out how to access the
     information themselves.  We should also not be surprised if our expertise
     as knowledge navigators goes unrecognized.

     Happy National Nurses Week, everyone.  And I'm looking forward to my
     first National Medical Librarians Month celebrations in October.


     Pauline (Polly) Beam
     The Gustave and Janet Levy Library,
     Mount Sinai Medical Center
     New York,NY

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: FW: Consumer Health Credential Program - Reply to MLA
Author:  Marilyn Roe <[log in to unmask]> at SMTP-for-MSSM
Date:    5/7/2001 3:09 PM

I agree and have also encountered the attitude that one must be a nurse to
be involved in patient education.