National Network of Libraries of Medicine
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Consumer Health Specialization Classes

Consumer Health Specialization Classes Online

  • ABCs of DNA: Unraveling the Mystery of Genetics Information for Consumers
  • Beyond an Apple a Day: Providing Consumer Health Information at Your Library
  • Combatting Information Fatigue: Health Information Resources for Veterans
  • Grants and Proposal Writing
  • Health and Wellness @ the Library: The Essentials of Providing Consumer Health Services
  • Keeping Up with PubMed
  • Making PubMed Work for You
  • Prescription for Success: Consumer Health on the Web
  • Promoting Health Literacy Through Easy-to-Read Materials
  • Will Duct Tape Cure My Warts?: Examining Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Class Descriptions:

ABCs of DNA: Unraveling the Mystery of Genetics Information for Consumers (8 MLA CE)

Consumers need access to information and resources about genetic information in a manner that is understandable. Librarians working with the public need to be aware of the issues surrounding genetics and resources to assist patrons in locating and evaluating sometimes complex and confusing information. This class explores basic concepts such as genes and chromosomes and offers an overview of genetic disorders, genetic testing, genetic counseling, and the Human Genome Project. Ethical and legal issues associated with genetic disorders will be covered with regard to privacy, discrimination, and potential legislative impact on medicine and society. A variety of reliable health information resources will be demonstrated, including, but not limited to: Genetics Home Reference,, CHID (Combined Health Information Database), NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders), and MedlinePlus.

Beyond an Apple a Day: Providing Consumer Health Information at Your Library (8 MLA CE)

This hands-on class will cover the information seeking behaviors of consumers. It will also address the recommended core reference collection, as well as databases and newsletters/ periodicals. It will cover the reference interview, disclaimers, and privacy as well as networking with medical librarians. The class will introduce the students to the Medical Library Association and its local chapters. It will describe possible ways to market this service in a community.


We will cover steps involved in providing a consumer health reference service in your public library including:

  • Health information needs of patrons
  • Challenges of providing consumer health information
  • Planning a consumer health service
  • Budgeting
  • Collection development
  • Consumer health on the Internet
  • The reference interview
  • Ethics
  • Outreach
  • Project development
  • Marketing

The Canny Consumer: Resources for Consumer Health Decision-Making (3 MLA CE)

With the sharp rise in web-informed consumers and today’s fast paced communication technology and inclusive health care systems, information is readily available. Many health care systems now offer portable electronic records and electronic prescription services. The technologically savvy generation makes use of tools such as YouTube, blogs, and websites to share experiences in their health care. Yet, with the estimated 90 million Americans who do not understand how to read, comprehend, or use health information, health literacy will determine who is left behind in this techno cultural revolution. This class will focus on the interaction between technology, culture, and politics. An interactive session will allow participants to explore new and upcoming technologies such as personal health records and e-health tools. The resources covered will assist consumers and those helping consumers to find quality health information and to navigate the health care system. Implications for those left behind, including the ethical, social, and privacy issues concerning these new technologies will also be discussed.


  • Gain knowledge of the behavior of e-health consumers and acquire awareness of ethical, social and privacy issues and/or practices surrounding these tools.
  • Explore and identify new and existing consumer health e-tools available to be a better health care consumer
  • Utilize resources presented to locate reliable, authoritative health information specific to navigating the health care system
  • Acquire skills and knowledge to effectively identify and assess resources not covered in class

Combatting Information Fatigue: Health Information Resources for Veterans (3 MLA CE)

Veterans and their families need reliable health information resources and training to locate health information that is sensitive and pertinent to their needs. This course will cover resources for finding information on general health conditions, mental health resources including those for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), family issues, substance abuse, amputations, support groups and more. Additionally, this class will prepare participants to find and assess other veterans’ health resources.


  • Understand the unique information needs of veterans and their families
  • Utilize resources presented to locate reliable, authoritative health information specific to veterans
  • Acquire skills and knowledge to effectively identify and assess resources not covered in the class

From Snake Oil to Penicillin: Evaluating Consumer Health Information on the Internet (3 MLA CE)

Where do you turn for trusted health information? This course will provide you with tools to determine whether health information web sites are trustworthy and reliable or whether to look elsewhere. Criteria for evaluating health information web sites will be provided and interactive assignments will reinforce concepts.


  • Become familiar with unique issues surrounding health information on the internet.
  • Understand the nature of web-based resources and why people post information to the internet.
  • Evaluate health information web sites using a set of criteria provided so that you can determine whether or not the sites are trustworthy sources of health information.

Grants and Proposal Writing (2-4 MLA CE)

Designed for beginning grant proposal writers, this class presents a general overview of the grant and funding processes as well as the level of detail required in a successful proposal. Each component of the grant writing process will be addressed, including: documenting the need; identifying the target population; writing measurable objectives; developing a work plan, an evaluation plan and dissemination plan.


Participants will be able to:

  • Identify online resources to search for funding
  • Describe the basic sections of a proposal
  • Identify types of documents necessary to include with a proposal
  • Recognize common mistakes of proposal writers

Health & Wellness @ the Library: The Essentials of Providing Consumer Health Services (12 MLA CE)

This online course defines the core competencies of providing consumer health information services and then dives directly into the essential skills and knowledge that library staff need to build those competencies. The course starts by preparing you with tools to learn the demographics and health status of people in your community.


Learners will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of consumer health and how the library helps to build healthy communities.
  • Explain the difference between literacy and health literacy.
  • Feel comfortable and confident providing health reference to diverse users.
  • Understand the ethical and legal issues about providing health information.
  • Evaluate the quality of health information in a variety of formats, and teach users how to recognize the elements of trustworthy materials and the warning signs of dubious health information.
  • Identify and choose authoritative health information resources that are appropriate for particular users.
  • Apply criteria for collection development of consumer health materials.
  • Plan health-related programming and events.

Keeping Up with PubMed

This class will show attendees how to use the features of PubMed effectively. Attendees will be able to describe the contents of PubMed; formulate basic search strategies; display, print, and save results in various formats; revise and refine searches; and use special features such as Related Articles, Link to journals, Citation Matcher, and Clinical Queries.

Making PubMed Work for You

This class is intended to hone basic searching techniques and the ability to develop search strategies that will take advantage of the PubMed interface to MEDLINE. The course will explore various methods for searching the PubMed system. Topics covered include Automatic Term Mapping, Search Results, Related Articles, My NCBI, Searching with MESH, Journal searching, and Single Citation Matcher. This course will provide an overview of the system and demonstrate utilizing the features of PubMed to search effectively.

Nursing on the Net: free resources (1-2 MLA CE)

Are you looking for freely accessible nursing content on the Internet? The focus of this one or two hour class is on free, credible and current (non-NLM) internet resources and content.  This class is of interest to nurses, nursing students, nurse faculty of various specialties, allied health professions and to librarians who serve these constituencies. It is a global tour of nursing resources organized by independent topic. Lecture and instruction targets the differences, similarities and nuances of resources within each topic area. Areas include resources associated with evidence based nursing, nursing informatics, practice issues & clinical guidelines and documentation, skills assessment/development, clearinghouses, nursing news, health-based search engines, youth & teenage health issues (school nurses), emergency & disaster preparedness, tutorials and videos.

If seeking a class whose focus is on the National Library of Medicine based nursing resources, including PubMed, then the Nursing on the Net: Health Care Resources You Can Use class maybe for you.


Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the types of authoritative nursing information available on the Internet
  • Evaluate quality resources
  • Strategies for searching the Internet for freely accessible nursing resources

Prescription for Success: Consumer Health on the Web (4 MLA CE)

This hands-on introduction to consumer health information will cover the information-seeking behaviors of consumers, the basics of, DIRLINE, and other reliable web pages such as those from professional medical associations and advocacy groups. It will cover sites devoted to pharmaceutical information for consumers, drug-interaction databases and herbal information.


Identify selected website useful for answering consumer's health questions, especially:

  • Disease-specific information
  • Drug information for consumers
  • Herbal Information
  • Doctor Finders

Promoting Health Literacy through Easy-To-Read Materials (4 MLA CE)

Learn to critique, rewrite and create materials that get your health and wellness information across quickly and clearly. We'll explore the topic of health literacy and review the disconnect between information providers and information seekers, the process of educating adults, the success of "plain language" initiatives and the importance of text, type, graphics, space and layout. In this class you will also learn about assessing literacy levels using examples, and will edit pieces so that at the conclusion you'll have new awareness, new skills, a new product and access to further resources. Clear health communication is the goal, regardless of medium.


  • Define the behavioral objective(s) of the material.
  • Determine the key information points the reader needs to achieve the behavioral objective(s).
  • Decide on the reading level for the material and organize topics in the way the person will use them.
  • Implement the key principles of effective print materials using appropriate content, style, layout, visuals, and readability.

Will Duct Tape Cure My Warts?: Examining Complementary and Alternative Medicine (8 MLA CE)

The goal of this class is to increase understanding of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Students will learn the history of CAM and its impact on medical practices. They will learn how CAM is used, how to avoid “bad science” and how to look up evidence of the effectiveness of CAM therapies.


  •   Have knowledge of the definition and types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).
  •   Have greater knowledge of the history of CAM and it's impact on medical practice.
  •   Have greater understanding of usage of CAM.
  •   Increase confidence in evaluating health websites
  •   Increase skills in avoiding “bad science” found on the Internet or in the news.
  •   Become more proficient in searching for evidence of the effectiveness of CAM

These classes will be offered on a rotating basis during the year and are subject to the coordinator’s travel schedule. Classes are provided using Moodle, an online course management system. The classes are available 24/7 to work at your own pace throughout the open class period. Some classes also have an interactive session using Adobe Connect. For more information about Moodle, please see:

For more information or to be added to the online class notification list, please contact Terri Ottosen @