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Health Pathways: New Consumer Health Training Opportunities in the Pacific Southwest Region!

Health Information Needs and Response

As consumers become more involved with their own healthcare, the importance of access to quality, accurate, and appropriate information is crucial. The Affordable Care Act and the associated challenges for consumers underscore the need for information and the very real difficulties facing ordinary people as they try to navigate the system. Health information is often written at a high school reading level or above, yet many people read at lower levels or need information in other languages.

Librarians have an opportunity to provide much-needed information services that will help patients, caregivers and interested consumers find the information they need to make the best decisions for their own situations. But with current trends, it’s not enough to know the best book on the shelf or the best website to answer a health-related question. Consumers are using mobile devices to search for information and to track their own health data. They are using social health media sites to share and gather information. They may even be accessing their own medical records through the electronic health record at their healthcare institution. Are librarians who serve the public keeping up with the needs of health information seekers? As these trends emerge, librarians can benefit from continuing education and learning opportunities to keep up with patron needs.

New Training Opportunities

To provide training and support in this area, PSR will be offering significantly more consumer health classes starting in December and continuing through 2014 and beyond. We will offer both in-person and distance learning classes. December 10th will mark the kickoff of Health Pathways, a new series of four different consumer health workshops which will be taught over the course of two full days, so that librarians can acquire expertise in consumer health resources and services in a short amount of time. Attendees will have the option of attending some or all of the classes.

Over the next few years, we will offer additional in-person and online classes to provide more consumer health training opportunities. Our training courses will cover a broad swath of topics, including specific quality resources, mobile apps and sites, social health media, health programming, and best practices for serving special populations.

The Consumer Health Information Specialization Program (CHIS)

Participants will receive MLA CE units for all of the classes in the Health Pathways series, but more importantly, each class will apply towards MLA’s Consumer Health Information Specialization Program, or CHIS. It’s important to note that participants do not have to be a member of MLA to take CHIS classes and apply for CHIS. The specialization is extremely useful for public librarians and others who provide health information services to the public. However, hospital and academic health sciences librarians can benefit greatly, as all of the classes provide the opportunity for professional development and staying current in the field. Attaining CHIS can also improve resumes for those in the job market.

Typically, participants need to take a minimum of three CHIS classes that are eligible for MLA CE units, with a combined CE count of 12 units. Even though MLA allows applicants three years to complete enough classes that qualify, it may be difficult to acquire enough CHIS-eligible CE units if classes are not offered frequently. The Health Pathways bundle of classes will provide enough CE units for participants to apply for CHIS, if they so desire. While our classes are offered at no cost, there is a fee to apply for the CHIS specialization through MLA. More information is available at the CHIS Program page.

The first CHIS bundle will be taught at the UCLA PSR training lab on December 10-11. To see course descriptions and to register, please visit the Health Pathways Guide. If your library is interested in having this training come to you, please contact Kelli Ham, NN/LM PSR Consumer Health & Technology Coordinator!

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