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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Archive for February, 2012

Inspiring People in our Region: Kay Hogan Smith, Community Service Librarian, University of Alabama, Birmingham

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

“Don’t expect to dust off your hands and wave good-bye after the grant project is done – this is a long-term commitment.”

Kay Hogan Smith
Community Services Librarian
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Lister Hill Library:


What is your position?
I’m Community Services Librarian at UAB Lister Hill Library, and director of Health InfoNet of Alabama, a free health information service of the state’s medical and public libraries (since 1999).

Is there something in your own personal story that led you to do the work you do?
I was a public librarian before I became – quite by accident – a medical librarian. This was in the dark ages of course, but I remember how flummoxed I and my colleagues then would get by the medical questions. I was so afraid of steering people wrong! So, when I came to Lister Hill Library and was put in charge of consumer health information services, I decided that what was really needed was a cooperative health information service that pulled on the strengths of both the public and the medical librarians throughout the state. The major strength of both is their expertise in finding just the information needed that is reliable and current at the time it’s needed. We focus on that and on training and collection development as well as the use of the academic medical libraries as reference backup for the public libraries.

What do you love most about your outreach work?
Knowing that just by being sympathetic, if nothing else, I really am helping someone who may be struggling with serious health issues. I also really enjoy meeting community health advocates and partners all around the state, even around the country – I’ve met some terrific folks and become involved in some wonderful community health initiatives, especially in the faith community.

What is the biggest challenge in what you do?
Given the nature of what I do and the times we live in, I’m often contacted by uninsured people who are desperately seeking health care services. Some are even homeless, or close to it. It breaks my heart and frustrates me to no end that so many are left to fall through the cracks.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your work in terms of health outreach to your community’s underserved populations?
I’ve gotten to know a lot of truly wonderful people in my community that I might never have met but for the work I do. It is really through them that I find my greatest fulfillment in truly connecting with a community and helping them to empower themselves with reliable health information. Also, having been away from the public library myself for many years now, I continue to be impressed with the public libraries’ vibrancy and relevance in the community. They’ve truly earned this place of respect through their continuing innovation and openness to new ideas.

What do you see as the biggest health concerns in the communities you serve?
Our fragmented and inadequate health care system, especially when it comes to the poor and uninsured. Even the relatively well off, however, find it confusing at best. Our system demands a very high level of health literacy, and often it just isn’t there. Of course, that isn’t just in Alabama, although given what a poor state this is, the problem may be more acute here than elsewhere.

How did you first come to know NN/LM SE/A?
Typically, I think my very first awareness of NNLM was its funding awards, at that time for Grateful Med teaching. I got an award to teach the program to medical residents at the hospital where I worked at the time.

In what ways has NN/LM SE/A been of help to you?
In many ways, Health InfoNet of Alabama might never have been – at least not on its current scale – if not for NN/LM. They’ve always been so supportive of our work, both financially and otherwise. I’m eternally grateful to them all!

Can you share a success story about the impact of health outreach in your community?
Just recently, I helped a young woman locate information on a prescription for a skin cream her doctor had given her for severe psoriasis. The woman had just found out she was pregnant, and it turned out the skin cream was reported to increase risks of birth defects when used by pregnant women. Needless to say, she was relieved to have found out this fact before something more serious than the psoriasis happened to her baby! And I thought it was nice to know that we did our part to prevent birth defects.

What advice would you give others who are interested in doing health outreach work in their communities?
Start early getting to know, on a personal level, the people in the target communities you’ll be working with (even if you don’t know what you’ll be working on with them yet).  And, don’t expect to dust off your hands and wave good-bye after the grant project is done – this is a long-term commitment, not a “one night stand” – or at least it should be!  Finally, keep at it – things don’t always fall immediately into place.

If you would like to share your story or suggest another person for our “Inspiring People” feature, please email Nancy Patterson:

Professional Development Library Grows

Friday, February 10th, 2012

We are pleased to say that the SE/A Professional Development Library has grown by 4 new titles:

  • Kvale and Svend. Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing.
  • Patton. Essentials of Utilization-Focused Evaluation.
  • Booth. Reflective Teaching, Effective learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators
  • Rossman and Rallis. Learning in the Field: an Introduction to Qualitative Research

Within the next month, we will be adding titles on grant-seeking, retirement, and library marketing.

As always, borrowing these books is free. For instruction on borrowing these items and a list of all titles, please visit our Professional Development Library page at:

Clinical Informatics granted Board-approved subspecialty status

Friday, February 10th, 2012

An important step in professional recognition of clinical informatics (CI) occurred in September 2011. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), whose function is “to assist its Member Boards in implementing educational/professional standards to evaluate and certify physician specialists,” voted to approve and recognize CI as a subspecialty with an administrative home belonging to the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM). Though ABPM has sole responsibility for developing and administering the certification exam and the resulting certificates, it was joined by the American Board of Pathology as a co-sponsor.

The approval of the ABPM’s certification application allows board examinations to start with a target of Fall 2012, with the first set of physician certificates awarded sometime in early 2013. According to American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), rigorous CI core competencies will be influenced by publications on the subject that were developed by AMIA and its members, many of whom have pioneered the field and supported CI’s new status as an ABMS-recognized area of clinical expertise. Read more about AMIA’s vision of the role of the clinical informatician.

How might this affect health sciences librarianship? In a healthcare delivery world increasingly reliant on one electronic “play-space,” clinicians and their leadership eventually want the electronic health record (EHR) to seamlessly integrate with essential ancillary systems and resources. While the technology, institutional capabilities, and resources are not completely universal as yet, there are indications of movement in that direction. For more information on these developments, be sure to read the September 2011 issue (18:5) of JAMIA. The issue is dedicated to recent developments in the area of natural language processing techniques and their impact on unstructured content in health information systems, especially EHRs.

Though this designation covers physicians, there is a collateral need to develop similar designations for nursing and public health informaticians. In the meantime there are good degree and academic certification programs in clinical, nursing, and public health informatics which are open to clinical and non-clinical students. Many programs have online programs to accommodate workers who need to attend classes in the virtual realm. Additionally, Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) funding is available (to anyone eligible through a participating school) to strengthen workforce development in an assortment of informatics roles. Individual funding is provided in a variety of ways from participating community colleges and universities that administer the ONC funds. These HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) funds are short-lived, so if you are interested in CI, I encourage you to do your research now. These institutions are tasked with producing an informatics workforce to mitigate the U.S. shortage of qualified workers as addressed in previous health information technology (HIT) reform legislation.

For more information, please contact PJ Grier, SE/A Outreach and Access Coordinator.

About Us: Consumer Health Coordinator - Terri Ottosen

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Terri Ottosen

Consumer Health Coordinator – Terri Ottosen

Having been the Consumer Health Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern Atlantic Region, for almost seven years, I have had the privilege of serving the region’s members through two contracts with the National Library of Medicine and now have begun a third. In this capacity, I have developed new consumer health classes and provided extensive training for consumers, public librarians, and health sciences librarians who serve the public.

Beginning with the last contract, I have focused on new topics of interest including patient informatics (e-patients), veteran’s health resources, and consumer genetics. These classes have proved popular and have been taught in-person and online for several years. Intrigued by the move to increase NN/LM’s distance education offerings, I began adapting many of the existing consumer health classes to Moodle, an open-source version of course management software similar to Blackboard. Focusing my efforts on a suite of consumer health classes online has allowed many in the Region (and some outside our Region) to obtain credits towards earning their Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) from the Medical Library Association. As we all know, the economy has reduced or eliminated travel budgets for librarians to attend classes and it’s sometimes difficult to get a group large enough for an in-person class. Offering free classes online has increased many of our network members’ options for continuing education. For descriptions of all of our consumer health classes please visit the NN/LM SE/A CHIS page:

This year I have set a specific schedule for courses rather than just announcing their availability via the electronic discussion lists and a personal notification list. This has proven to be a good method, as potential participants can plan ahead for the classes they are interested in taking. Also, I am targeting two states per contract year to increase participation of public librarians. The first two are Mississippi and West Virginia. If you know anyone in the Region who may be interested, please share this post with them or have them contact me directly. A total of six consumer health classes are now available via Moodle, which allows participants to complete assignments and readings at their own pace, 24/7. I enjoy developing and adapting classes to the online environment and derive a great deal of satisfaction interacting with everyone. I find that I can get to know the individuals in this environment in an in-depth manner over a longer period of time.

Plans for the current 2011-2016 contract include the continuation of existing classes, online and in-person, as well as the development of some new ones. Many of you may remember Beth Wescott’s Easy-to-Read class. This class has been modified and taught throughout our Region several times. The current version of the class, Promoting Health Literacy Through Easy-to-Read Materials, is in the process of being adapted for Moodle, thus increasing the potential audience and availability. Additionally, the consumer genetics class, ABCs of DNA: Unraveling the Mystery of Genetics Information for Consumers, will be adapted for distance education and hopefully be available by the middle of 2012. These two offerings will bring the total number of online classes to eight, thereby increasing the opportunities for consumer health education anytime and anywhere.

As many of you know, the Consumer Health Coordinator works closely with our Community Outreach Coordinator, Nancy Patterson. Together we coordinate the consumer health program for the Region. Nancy focuses on outreach to faith and community organizations and I focus on consumers and librarians who work with consumers. During this contract period, we plan to create a health and wellness class with a significant focus on the science of happiness, an area of specific interest to us both. We will also create a nutrition class and adapt it for each of our respective audiences. I will also continue to offer new SEAGuides (NN/LM SE/A’s version of LibGuides) on a variety of topics pertinent to consumer health. If you have not had a chance to view the existing guides, including the state pages, please visit:, and as always, suggestions for future topics are most appreciated.

Consumer health funding opportunities will continue to focus on providing outreach to seniors, veterans, public and health sciences library partnerships, technological improvements to consumer health centers, and many more. Nancy and I will also be consulting with the appointed Consumer Health Regional Access Committee to continue to bring a robust and exciting consumer health program to the Region. Please continue to give us your feedback and input so we can continue to improve.

Groups Release Online Health IT Toolkit for Rural Health Providers

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

The Rural Assistance Center and the National Rural Health Resources Center recently announced the release of an online health IT toolkit aimed at helping rural health care providers plan and implement health IT projects, AHA News reports.

HHS’ Office of Rural Health Policy provided funding to support the development of the online toolkit (AHA News, 1/27).

Toolkit Details

The toolkit offers resources on:

  • The planning, setup, implementation and maintenance of health IT systems;
  • How to find health IT training programs, management expertise and funding support; and
  • The meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Goals of Toolkit

The toolkit aims to help rural communities:

  • Address hurdles to raising capital for health IT projects;
  • Improve community college-based health IT training programs;
  • Obtain federal resources to support health IT initiatives; and
  • Stay informed about health IT policy (RAC release, 1/26).

Read more:

Resource Links:

Last updated on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016

Funded under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012340 with the University of Maryland, Health Sciences and Human Services Library, and awarded by the DHHS, NIH, National Library of Medicine.