2012 PSRML Internship: A Varied Experience!
by Lynn Kysh
Department of Information Studies student
UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
During the 2012 spring quarter, I had the opportunity to intern with the Pacific Southwest Regional Medical Library. For the past ten weeks, I’ve taken on three projects: a training session on MedlinePlus for medical social workers, a webinar focused on resources for sexual violence survivors, and a project modifying an existing curriculum, which instructs senior adults how to find and evaluate online health resources for a low literacy population. These projects all complement my interest in providing instruction services, and my growing commitment to health literacy.
During a workshop for medical social workers hosted by health and life sciences librarian Lisa Federer, I was able to facilitate a discussion on MedlinePlus. I explained how it was developed as a consumer health resource for patients and their families, and highlighted how it was different from other health websites such as WebMD and search engines like Google. Once participants understood that MedlinePlus was a resource hosted by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, focused on providing easy to understand and accurate information, we discussed how it was different from a research tool such as PubMed. As a class, we worked on different scenarios I provided where MedlinePlus could potentially be helpful for a medical social worker. This included situations where medical terminology needed to be defined, or when a patient needed resources for a specific issue.
It was great to be part of this workshop, not only for the opportunity to teach, but also to observe other teaching styles. The workshop also reinforced my teaching philosophy to consider the audience, and create a curriculum that engages them and helps them take part in their own learning.
Sexual Violence Webinar
For the month of May, I created and facilitated a webinar as part of the Midday at the Oasis series. Based on my previous experience working in California-based rape crisis centers, I put together a presentation focused on resources for survivors of sexual violence. This webinar could be helpful for health sciences librarians, as well as public librarians who encounter people looking for information on this topic. Resources included finding statistics on the issue, information on the reporting process, and organizations that reach out to specific groups, including teens, men and the LGBQT community. The archived webinar and a LibGuide of the resources are available from the NN/LM PSR website.
This was my first experience creating and running a webinar. It is very different from speaking in front of a classroom, because you can no longer visually gauge the audience and their participation is limited through an online interface. I’m glad I was able to take on this new method of teaching on a topic that I have experience discussing, and that I received positive feedback from the participants.
Helping Adults Search for Easy-to-Read Health Information Online
The NIHSeniorHealth website currently hosts a toolkit for trainers focused on helping seniors find health information online. Originally developed by the National Institute on Aging, the toolkit not only helps instructors teach seniors how to use Internet technology, but also addresses how to search and evaluate online health information. I worked with Kelli Ham, PSR Consumer Health and Technology Coordinator, to modify the toolkit and its handouts to be used by low literacy learners. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one third of adults have trouble understanding and acting on health information. Individuals with low literacy are particularly at risk for having low health literacy, which can negatively affect their overall health. With the need for such a toolkit in mind, I attended the Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s annual Health Literacy Conference during the month of May in Irvine.
I attended a pre-conference workshop led by Gloria Mayer that focused on the steps to take when creating easy-to-read health materials. From that lesson and through other resources, I learned the best practices for creating easy-to-read handouts. These best practices included conscientious font choices, providing white space, using short sentences, and avoiding medical jargon. I also discovered methods that can be used to evaluate the reading level for materials I created. These methods include SMOG, Fry, and Lexile Analyzer.
This has been a project with a significant learning curve for me, but the resources and support available to me have made it easier. This project has heightened my awareness of the issue of health literacy, and the work that remains to be done to make it easier for consumers to take an active role in their health and wellness.
I have learned so much while working on these three projects along with the staff at NN/LM PSR. The work was so rewarding and I thank everyone for their support. This internship has opened up opportunities to me in the health sciences field, and has strengthened my interest in becoming a health sciences librarian. I hope to take my growing set of skills and enthusiasm into the job market following graduation from the MLIS program at UCLA!