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Report on the Workshop “Knowledge Sharing in Hospitals: the Librarian’s Role”

by Sunny Sritongsook, MLIS, AHIP
Medical Librarian
Scripps Mercy Hospital
San Diego, CA

Health care reform has repurposed health care in the US, and hospital leaders have been strategizing ways to continually improve processes for increased quality of care, while reducing medical errors and redundancy in the system. On the whole, it’s not an easy task to undertake, but utilizing knowledge management (KM) fits squarely with the design for immediate change in a complex environment.

Dee Cannon, Sunny Sritongsook, Becky Steward and Lorri Zipperer

With professional development award funding received from NN/LM PSR, I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the workshop Knowledge Sharing in Hospitals: the Librarian’s Role, held February 7-8, 2013, at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Library of the Health Sciences. Co-sponsored by NN/LM MidContinental Region and NN/LM Greater Midwest Region, this unique workshop united librarians with a clinical team member from their institution; someone who not only supports the library, but who also can use their expertise to help influence knowledge sharing buy-in with administrators and hospital leaders. My clinical partner was Dee Cannon.

The KM workshop spanned 1.5 days. To prepare for our onsite sessions, presenters Becky Steward, BSN, RN, and Lorri Zipperer, Cybrarian, facilitated two pre-workshop conference call meetings. The conference calls gauged the participants’ understanding of KM concepts and change theories. Learning about the concepts and real-life applications of knowledge management and organizational change helped me a great deal. By the time we met in Chicago, I had a foundational understanding of potential barriers to improvement opportunities, and what sort of KM projects we might implement at our hospital.

Day one of the workshop consisted of “knowing” who our champions are, using the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) technique. A thoroughly enlightening exercise, we were partnered with people from other institutions, based on our similar likes of rock music. Through conversation we revealed our assumptions about our institution’s cultural environment, and if we found it conducive to openness and learning. We discussed experiences of when sharing knowledge has brought positive change or feelings of being empowered. By honing in on the strengths and positivity of the exercise, we learned to collaborate effectively, build upon one another’s tacit knowledge, and leverage our unique skills and abilities in order to make change work. We ended the day’s session with a networking dinner at Rosebud’s Italian Restaurant in Little Italy. To eat, drink, and be merry as we continued to build rapport and gain knowledge through open discussion was multidisciplinary collaboration at its best!

The hard work began the following day, when we practiced some of those techniques for change through the rapid improvement exercise. Each partnership had an idea of what opportunities they wanted to carry out at their institution. We learned to apply the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) to evaluate change. Everything we had gleaned to that point came into alignment; perform Appreciative Inquiry to analyze the problem, critically refine our ideas for improvement, and identify the resources to make the transition for seamless change. Then we would execute the plan for action on a small scale, because it helps the organization to learn and grow without blowing it to pieces. And talk about speed, the homework task was that by Tuesday of the following week, we should have made some effort to move the project along!

By the end of our short stay in Chicago, participants had a much clearer vision of what it is we wanted to accomplish at our institution. Presenters Becky Steward and Lorri Zipperer were excellent facilitators; inviting openness, offering expert insight to tackle problems, and sharing stories of successes as well as failures. Participants continued to Tweet their progress to the group, and we will conclude with two more post-workshop conference calls regarding our progress in the weeks to come. The experience has been by far the most interactive and important event I have so far uncovered during my experience as a hospital librarian. I can truly attest that because of this experience there is no turning back; I can only look forward!

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