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 Alaska!
Who am I? Leslie Meyer, Knowledge Navigator
Where do I work? Central Peninsula Hospital’s Health Resource Center in Soldotna, AK
With the official title of Knowledge Navigator, I hear this question at least once a day from patients, friends, and confused members of the general public. While many of them are satisfied with a simple, “I’m a medical librarian,” that answer doesn’t satisfy me, because it doesn’t encompass everything that I do during a day. Not even close!
I staff Central Peninsula Hospital’s Health Resource Center, located on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Although the city of Soldotna and the surrounding areas are considered fairly populated (for this state, anyway), we’re still rural enough that people often have trouble locating resources they can comfortably access. That’s where I come in.
The Resource Center offers books for loan to patients, employees, and anyone in the community. I also handle requests from physicians, nurses, and other medical staff for articles from medical journals. I have pamphlets, LibGuides, and patient workbooks. I have iPads and laptops loaded with health apps and websites available for patients during their admission. I have medical reference journals, I have meditative audio and video guides, I even have a couple of adult coloring books. I’m on steering committees and advisory councils, and I work with people from departments across the entire hospital to be sure that our community members have access to the best information there is.
I also interact directly with patients. Every day I go up to the inpatient floor and ‘round’. Anyone with a new diagnosis is offered a personalized LibGuide specific to their personal and literary needs. This includes everything from local resources to trusted websites, relevant books, and where to find them in the community or online. Our hospital has an open medical record policy, and I often help patients and family members navigate our patient portal, where they can see test results and notes from previous visits. Some people may need help filling out or understanding their Advance Health Care Directives; I break each section down and help them be sure what everything means, and then I notarize it and help them file it. Sometimes, if I have a few minutes, I even sit and chat a little.
So when I say “Knowledge Navigator”, I mean literally just that! I help people navigate through the often-overwhelming world of medical information, so that they can become better advocates for themselves and others. My absolute favorite part of an interaction is helping people become better informed and seeing some of that stress slough off their shoulders. I love it when someone leaves the Resource Center with a list of new websites, or a book about diabetes, or with the number and meeting time of a support group and looking just a little less worried than they were before they came.
Healthcare is scary. But it doesn’t always have to be with the proper resources and education, and I’m very grateful to be a medical librarian, a navigator, and a consumer health specialist with all of you!