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Say “Yes!” Whenever Possible

Posted by on October 26th, 2017 Posted in: News from Network Members
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To celebrate Medical Librarian’s Month we have invited medical librarians in our region to submit some information about who they are and the work that they do as medical librarians.

Today we hear from a hospital librarian in Oregon!

Judith with Mr. Gross Mouth

Who am I? Judith Hayes, MLS

Where do I work? Tuality Healthcare in Hillsboro, OR

I started work as a medical librarian at Tuality Healthcare in Hillsboro, OR, on April 15, 1994.  Almost 24 years later, I am approaching retirement in just a few short weeks with anticipation and dread.

It’s been amazing.  I have loved my job.  It feeds my sense of satisfaction to find just the right piece of information for someone:  so a patient can gain understanding about their disease and talk with some knowledge with their provider, so a provider can receive the latest evidence-based information in minutes for patient treatment, so a teacher can hold an anatomy fair with hands-on stations to spark a light for science and medicine in a student, so library school student volunteers and assistants can end up with fabulous jobs all over the country.

I feel blessed to have been at an organization that prized personal growth and allowed an enormous amount of autonomy to library staff.  If there was a project we wanted to do, there was a way to make it happen, with grants from the RML for Outreach (thank you, RML!), the local City of Hillsboro for educational chats on health topics partnering with public libraries, Tuality’s Foundation for bankrolling the public portion of the library, local Librarian organizations for speaking and teaching opportunities (thank you OHSLA, PNC, Oregon State Library Association, Washington County Public Libraries and Tuality!).  I’ve had the opportunity to share my knowledge with doctors, nurses, public reference librarians, teachers, students, and members of the public, both in the library and outside of it.

Several people stand out.

  • There was a young man who came in having received a devastating diagnosis.  Together, we found information about his rare disease and talked about some surgical options in the area.  He returned months later to say thank you because I was the first person who had given him any hope that he would have a future.
  • There was a young mother who came in on the day she was having diagnostic tests to determine why she was ill.  The second visit was to look for possible treatment information about a specific diagnosis, the third to search for information about dealing with side effects, and the fourth to return all the borrowed materials.  Treatment was over and she was well.
  • The grandfather trying to help the teenage granddaughter who had just come to live with him.  The new mother researching heart surgery treatment for her baby born with congenital heart defects (an article about the successful series of surgeries appeared in a local paper months later).  The pharmacist who needed the latest drug dosages to treat a patient in 10 minutes.   The nurse working on protocols to update nursing staff.   The request from a surgeon friend in Africa wanting to know if his treatment of a disease was really still the best way to do it.  Designing a CME series of four classes and discovering that yes, we had data to prove that the education had improved patient outcomes.

My philosophy has been to say “yes” whenever possible.  That helped me to stretch into new ideas and skills, and made the library a place to find answers and help, and not be turned away.   That means I am a proctor of tests, publicist of classes, book editor, instructor, CME coordinator, grant writer, data analyzer, mentor to library school student volunteers, library page, and oh, yes, researcher.

It’s been a great adventure.   Thank you to everyone in the region who helped make it possible.  The support in the Pacific Northwest has made this a GREAT region to work with.

Image of the author ABOUT Carolyn Martin
Carolyn Martin is the Consumer Health Coordinator for the NNLM Pacific Northwest Region. She works with various libraries and community organizations to increase health literacy in their communities.

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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