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Supporting Effective Systematic Reviews

Assako N. Holyoke
St. Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri

The Professional Development Award I received from the NN/LM MCR allowed me to attend “Systematic Review Workshop: The Nuts and Bolts for Librarians,” in October 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My experience was very positive and I have been able to use this training to more effectively support the execution of systematic review research for my liaison departments’ faculty, residents, and students. Learn more about the workshop here.

systematic review cloud

In January 2014, I assisted 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year medical students, including a graduating visiting international student, on their systematic review projects as they worked on an elective under a medical school faculty in the Department of Pediatrics and Plastic Surgery. I assisted all seven students on each of their individual projects. I taught two classes to two groups of students about what a systematic review is and provided guidance to each student on comprehensive literature searches for their topic. Thanks to the workshop, I was able to teach the students well-established standards  for systematic reviews. I helped them develop their systematic review protocols, identify relevant databases, and search them effectively. I continue to stay in touch with the students as they develop their projects, making sure their work is in accordance with the standards for systematic review studies.

The workshop also helped me provide assistance via coursework. I am currently developing a workshop for residents in the Department of Internal Medicine (IM). I will be teaching evidence-based medicine (EBM) and advanced information skills as a process to efficiently locate the highest level of evidence during a daily “resident report” activity. In conjunction with this workshop for residents, I am simultaneously developing an elective for 4th year medical students who are interested in participating in this IM resident’s program. Students will be participating in the “resident report” with the residents and presenting their projects from the elective. Case studies/scenarios will be provided by the residency program to students. I will have the opportunity to apply what I learned at the workshop in Pittsburgh in several different levels of the EBM practice, which includes systematic review. I was invited by the School of Medicine Office of Curricular Affairs to develop an elective that would fill the existing knowledge gaps identified among new residents in different areas of specialty. This workshop/course is the first attempt to meet that request.

As the course director of an online elective for 4th year medical students, “EBM Information Skills for Residency,” I have plans to incorporate what I learned about systematic review at the workshop into the course for the new academic year, 2014-15. This will improve the course and I will be able to offer students a stronger foundation for understanding and applying EBM and systematic reviews.

As time allows, I plan to develop a Web-based, interactive guide/tutorial on systematic review. This guide/tutorial will be based on what I learned at the workshop. I plan to make it available for my liaison departments of my institution or to any one planning to do systematic review research. The main purpose is to disseminate the current standards and provide the accurate process of systematic review studies.

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