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Region 4 News June 21st, 2024
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Shifting Practicums in Midstream During COVID

Posted in: #CC/Academic List, #Health Interest List, #Health Sciences List, #Public/K-12 List, All Members

Along with “you’re on mute,” the word pivot became perhaps the most overused work term of the COVID pandemic. Some of us pivoted so much we felt like we were trying out for the NBA.

Students and faculty advisors with the University of Missouri School of Information Science and Learning Technologies made their own quick transitions from in-person practicums to virtual ones when the Catalysts for Consumer Health Program had to adjust to the realities of COVID in 2020.

They learned from the experience and presented their perspectives on it two years later during a session at the Medical Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans earlier this month. Their presentation was titled “Reimagining the Practicum Experience: Post-Pandemic Round-Up.”

“It looked seamless, but it may not have been seamless,” admitted Chris Pryor, interim associate university librarian for specialized libraries at the University of Missouri. Pryor served as advisor to the program in her former role as Missouri coordinator for the NNLM MidContinental Region, which was replaced by the remapped and renamed Region 4 last year.

Catalysts for Community Health, or C4CH, was a project funded under a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services that provided specialized graduate training for information science students interested in taking leadership roles on behalf of health and health information in their communities.

A workplace practicum was a crucial part of the C4CH program’s student experience. Despite the disruption, C4CH managed to maintain practicums that helped students translate theory into workplace reality.

Among the revamped practicums were the following:

  • Student Jess Saunders worked on plans to improve metadata for materials at the University of Pittsburgh that were born digital or could be converted through optical character recognition, as well as photographs, handwritten documents and other ephemera.
  • Ellen Thieme worked with NNLM in a remote health sciences librarian internship to gain experience in writing grants, creating a library program guide, co-authoring articles and co-presenting at conferences. The work included a white paper on health literacy issues.
  • Brandon Jason helped develop programs on vaccine information in Spanish with English translation on behalf of the NNLM All of Us Research Program.
  • Brandon Kennedy served as the LGBTQ+ Hub Libguide Assistant for the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, providing access to resources like MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine Digital Collections. He also attended a course on plain language in health education materials offered by the University of Arkansas Medical School.

“To me it felt like my practicum never stopped” because it transitioned into other opportunities afterward, Thieme said. “What I didn’t have words for was how much I can stretch.”

Kennedy said he felt like he had a “bunch of support, a lot of people who believed in me” and discovered a passion for outreach and community engagement from the experience.

Both NNLM Region 4, which includes the Mountain States and the Dakotas, and Region 3, which now encompasses Missouri and other states, offer professional development awards that can be used by library and information science students for activities like online conferences.

“Online engagement is a great way to provide opportunities to people who otherwise would not have them,” said E. Bailey Sterling, technology and LIS coordinator for NNLM Region 3.



Contact us at:
Network of the National Library of Medicine/NNLM Region 4
University of Utah
Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library
10 North 1900 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-5890
Phone: 801-587-3650
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012344 with the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.

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