Medical Librarian - How to Become a Medical Librarian

Medical Librarian

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Medical Librarian Job Description


Medical librarians perform a key task for both healthcare professionals and patients by managing the flow of medical information. They provide high quality health data to patients and keep doctors and other medical experts up to date on the latest advances in their specialty, ensuring effective care and superior diagnoses.

 

Responsibilities

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A medical librarian may assist in training new health care providers in an academic setting, performing faculty work in which they show these providers how to access and analyze information related to their biomedical or health care degree. They use all kinds of data tools, ranging from standard print sources to cutting-edge electronic resources.

Medical librarians can also contribute positively to the creation of new products, services, and medical treatments by putting their expertise at the disposal of research teams. These teams can be part of a pharmaceutical company or a university medical faculty. Outreach programs that furnish the latest medical information to individuals, students, unaffiliated medical providers, and public health departments. Websites, blogs, online libraries, and distance education programs are among the methods available for spreading the word about the latest the clinical and healthcare advances.

These experts also help medical personnel find the information they need on a daily basis. A fresh specialization is the informationist, who participate in either research or clinical settings and work to retrieve biomedical information and train others in the necessary use of information science.

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Skills

 

Maintain Databases

Must know how to keep information current and update databases as time progresses. Must sort info and keep it organized.

Research

Be able to study and research practices and procedures to stay current on medical practices.

Critical Thinking

Must constantly be devising new ways of interacting with people, adapt to changes, and learn about the things a medical professional needs to know.

Analytical

Must be able to analyze information and use logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Complex Problem Solving

Use logic and reason to determine the best routes to solve issues as they arise.

Reading Comprehension

Must be able to understand written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents and be able to relay information as it is gathered.

Communication

Be able to work and communicate with doctors to keep them current on medical news and advancements as they are learned.

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Working Conditions:


A medical librarian can find work in a huge range of settings, including hospitals, universities and other academic facilities, companies making prescription drugs or medical equipment, research facilities, publishing firms, and government health departments at every level, among others. Their expertise is needed wherever medical data is required.

Major hospitals and academic medical centers employ many medical librarians to organize and access their libraries, or to build and index online resources. Internet-based medical information companies also utilize the services of these experts. In academic settings, medical librarians often serve in positions of authority and public prominence such as deans or associate deans. The chief information officer of a medical organization is often a medical librarian.

 

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How to Become a Medical Librarian:


Many medical librarians prepare themselves for their career by first earning a bachelor's degree concentrating on management, medical terminology, biology, medical sciences, and similar topics, though any will suffice. You will also need a master's degree in library and information science to become a medical librarian. 

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

First you have to get a bachelor's degree if you want to get into a library science graduate program. While there is no specific major requirements, some schools might look for humanities, social sciences or science backgrounds. It wouldn't hurt if you decided to take science or pre-med courses during college since you are going into a field where you need to know about subjects related to medicine.

A course load for a library science major could look like the following:

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • English 101, 102 
  • History 101
  • Foreign Language 101,102
  • Aesthetic Values (art, music)
  • College Math
  • Psychology
  • Elective 

Sophomore Year

  • ENG 203
  • Communication Studies
  • Foreign Language 201,202
  • Science 
  • Science Lab
  • Physics
  • Library Science 201
  • History 102

Junior Year

 

  • Lib. Science 401 
  • Lib Science 405 
  • Lib. Science 416 
  • Electives
  • Lib. Science 408
  • Lib. Science 411 
  • Lib. Science 415 3
  • Lib. Science 417 
  • Electives (300/400 level)

Senior Year

  • Lib. Science 418 
  • Lib. Science 445 
  • Lib. Science 491 
  • Lib. Science Electives
  • Lib. Science 489 
  • General Electives

Additionally, here is a list of other courses that could help in your career path:

  • Medical terminology

  • Anatomy

  • Nursing

  • Epidemiology or biostatistics

  • Computer science

  • Database structure, design, and searching

  • Web design

  • Adult education or teaching experience 

 

2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)

 

Most graduate programs require the GRE for admittance. It's a 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam that covers analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

 

The GRE is broken down into six primary sections:

 

1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • ~20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data

2 Verbal Reasoning Sections

  • ~20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

 

You can find study materials, GRE registration, and your test scores on the GRE website.

 

3. Earn a Master's Degree (2 Years)

 

Medical librarians must have a Master of Library and Information Science degree from a school with an ALA-accredited program. These programs are typically 48 semester hours of graduate-level course work and focus on the following:

  • Human Information Interactions (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

  • Information Resources and Services (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

  • Resource Selection and Evaluation (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

  • Organization of Information (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

  • Overview of Research Methods (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)

  • Management for Information Professionals (3.0 credits) (suggested for third semester)

  • Proposal Preparation and Presentation (1.5 credits) (suggested for third semester)

  • Master's Thesis

There are certain Library Science graduate programs that give you the option of choosing a health sciences or medical library concentration. Some colleges have dual degree programs that allow you to get your medical degree and your master's degree in library science. 

 

4. Earn a Doctoral Degree (Optional)

 

Optionally, a medical librarian can also earn a degree in medical informatics or go on to pursue a PhD in Library and Information Science. Regardless of exact academic details, the universities chosen should be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). The degree will also have a specialty track, such as special libraries, public libraries, and so on, and may involve information technology studies to help with current electronic and database management in the medical world.

 

5. Join a Credentialing Program

 

Once you become a medical librarian, you may apply for membership in the Academy of Health Information Professionals, a credentialing program for medical librarians sponsored by the Medical Library Association (MLA).

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Salary Outlook