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: http://nnlm.gov/sea/training/chis/
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: http://seaguides.hshsl.umaryland.edu/, 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.
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