On Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd September 2017, I attended the International Clinical Librarian Conference, thanks to funding awarded by NHS Health Education England. Healthcare library professionals from as far as America, Iran and Denmark converged on Leicester Racecourse and presented on multiple aspects on the clinical librarian role. I attended with a view to discovering more about the role to assess my suitability for it, and if so, what skills I would need to secure a CL post. Here I give you a taste of a few of the talks I saw and what I learnt from the conference as a whole.
Steve Glover and Olivia Schaff’s presentation showed me how important librarians can be in directing the future of research. Olivia worked with a group of librarians to conduct a systematic review of endometriosis research. Through identifying all the research available, areas where research was currently lacking could be identified and then ranked in terms of priority for further research. It was the first time I’d heard of librarians working in this way and I thought it was a really great use of our skills to influence the future of research.
One of my favourite talks was Bennet Jones and Katie Barnard on setting up a CL service at North Bristol NHS Trust. The creativity with which they developed the service was inspiring: from Bennett’s posters of Nurse Norman who was sad until he found the library, to their willingness to shadow surgeons in order to get a better understanding of their needs, to Katie’s abuse of the AOB section in staff meetings.
Farhad Shokraneh had everyone in a state of disbelief as he reported on clinical librarianship in Iran. Clinical librarianship is almost unheard of there and Farhad is possibly the only one of his kind in the country. He sits with a laptop in the emergency services department finding answers for enquiries there and then as staff come up to him, a bit like a human Cochrane Clinical Answers. It is possibly the fastest paced environment that a CL works in.
- When people ask you to do a systematic review, or in my case a literature search – ask as many questions as possible but particularly: What do you mean by a ‘systematic review’? and What’s your deadline?
- Being proactive and tenacious is key to establishing a new CL service. Provide the search that team needed but didn’t ask for. Don’t give up because a department didn’t take immediate interest.
- Attend as many meetings as possible. Make connections with people on the wards, with heads of services, as many people as possible.
- The CL role is very flexible. It can be defined in essence as meeting the information needs of clinical staff but these needs could be very different from department to department, from Trust to Trust and a CL needs to be flexible, creative and responsive to meet those different needs.
- It is an exciting, fulfilling role where you can see the impact you have on staff, their practices and patient care.
Many thanks to Health Education England for funding my place at the ICLC 2017. It was an invaluable experience and from it I can say that I would definitely look to apply to CL posts in the future.
Knowledge Service Assistant
Greater Manchester Mental Health