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Share Your Success: Librarians and Libraries from a Resident Perspective

By Chief Medical Residents: Dr. Gurpreet Sodhi and Dr. James Croffoot, Inova Fairfax Hospital

Submitted by Meredith Solomon, Medical Librarian, Inova Fairfax Hospital,

Internal medicine physicians are often faced with questions in medicine that are beyond their experience. The answers require the assistance of a specialist but can sometimes be answered with the assistance of consultants, books, or journal articles. In this day and age, the younger generation, as a product of the Internet/media age, has a tendency to “just Google it or Wikipedia it.”  These are easy to use, and will often give us a quick answer. But, is that safe for our patients? Is that safe for our education? The quick and easy route is not always the best route.

Traditionally, we are taught to investigate “evidence based medicine.” What does that mean for the younger generation of doctors? An initial thought from residents/interns these days is “Well, I just don’t have time to go looking up journal articles and books and stuff. I have to see so many patients.” This step is usually the rate-limiting step that hinders most young physicians who are accustomed to “Googling”.

Chief residents find themselves in an awkward position early in their year. As we work with the new residents, we find it challenging to help them find the evidence that will help answer their patient questions since we are just recent graduates of residency programs ourselves. We too are a product of this quick way of attaining an answer to quick questions that arise during medical practice. We just finished 3 years of using Up-To-Date and Google during beside rounds. As chief residents, we learn to adapt.

To help ourselves and the new residents, we to our librarians, the professionals. Librarians are an invaluable resource to help make physicians more comfortable with databases such as PubMed. While some may say “oh just put in this word and that word” we often cannot find the article that will DIRECTLY answer our question. Librarians are an important resource and asset to physicians as they help us achieve direct answers to the thousands of questions that arise every day. Furthermore, they take the time to show the route to finding the necessary information.

Teaching skills such as these are invaluable to professionals who can be truly too busy to independently navigate systems such as PubMed or MEDLINE and who do not have years of experience under their belt. Intrinsically, we want to use evidence base medicine; use the journals/articles/books – what have you to translate that information into deliverable clinically relevant and practicable information for our patients. We, as the physicians, are also frequently the patient and we want the same quality of information to support our care! Let’s face it, do you want to be a patient where a doctor is taking care of you based on the information s/he uses from Google, when in fact it takes 5 minutes to look up the same answer on PubMed/MEDLINE (evidence based medicine) that a librarian can easily help you navigate?

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