Building a bridge from the Library of the Health Sciences to nursing in Chicago
Liaison librarians are crucial partners with and advocates for the many disciplines at UIC. Students, educators and researchers rely on liaison expertise in course-integrated instruction, individualized research assistance and acquisition and maintenance of library resources to achieve their educational and research goals.
The following interview is the first in a series highlighting librarians in the University Library’s liaison program. We hope this ongoing feature will shed light on the important contributions liaisons make to shaping the ways in which our users research, learn and grow. Visit library.uic.edu/contact to connect with your librarian liaison today!
Rebecca Raszewski, MS, AHIP, is associate professor and information services and liaison librarian at the Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago. She has been the Chicago nursing library liaison since 2008.
Current Research Projects include education in biomedical and health informatics at ALA-accredited library schools, data management self-education for librarians and a follow up study of practicum students hosted by Northwestern University and UIC.
What is your educational background?
I majored in English Writing at La Salle University in Philadelphia. I knew I wanted to be a librarian in high school. I liked reading and thought librarians seemed to know everything. I saw the library as the center of knowledge and was intrigued with the idea that in a library it doesn’t matter who you are – everyone can freely access information.
How did you come to specialize in nursing?
I first became involved with nursing while working as a reference librarian at Drexel University.I was an adjunct faculty in the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions. I co-taught the nursing informatics course with nursing faculty. The librarians would show the students how to search databases and use RefWorks, a citation management tool. The nurses would show the students how to use a PDA yo look up drug information and how to do nursing care plans. When I started at UIC there was a vacancy serving nursing.
Tell me a little bit about your job responsibilities.
I teach student classes and workshops on how to use the library, research a particular topic or find practice guidelines. I recently presented on mobile clinical and point-of-care resources to nurse practitioner students for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program that was broadcast to some of the UIC College of Nursing campuses in Urbana, Rockford and the Quad Cities. During classes I try to alternate between lecture time and hands-on activities that give students a chance to try out research techniques.
I am also a member of the virtual reference team covering Chat with a Librarian and provide consultations to students and faculty in the health sciences who need help with their research and citation management. A new version of RefWorks will be coming out in 2018, and I will train library faculty and staff on how to use it.
I assist nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital with conducting literature searches and research that may improve practices in their units or address situations involving patient care. I am a member of the Evidence-based Practice Nursing Research Council that meets monthly. This council serves as a resource for nurses conducting research. The council has an article coming out this year in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality on nurses’ perceptions of quality care. Our study showed that qualitative assessment of nurses may play an important role in quality improvement, in addition to clinical-based outcomes. I conducted the initial literature review, helped categorize the nurses’ responses into 11 themes and contributed to the writing and editing of the paper. I also attend the Advanced Practice Nursing Council as the only non-nurse participant in order to stay informed about what is happening at the Hospital. Most of my time is spent in the College of Nursing helping graduate students conduct research for their Doctor of Nursing Practice projects, dissertations or with class assignments.
As a liaison to the UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), which translates scientific discoveries into better health care and medicine and conducts innovative clinical and translational research, my role has to do with evaluation. I track articles that cite the UIC CCTS grant numbers. I also help UIC researchers who have been awarded funds make sure that any resulting articles are compliant with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy by having their articles available in PubMed Central. PubMed Central is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.
What impact does your work have on student success?
Instructors have noticed that students find better sources after they have consulted with me or attended one of my classes. Students often thank me for my help and tell me they see a difference. I understand which resources are critical to creating a solid evidence base and provide direction on how to get started. I identify related areas a researcher may want to consider integrating into a project because they may lead them to new discoveries. In certain patient-care situations I may be able to help a nurse find research that will contribute to improving patient care or stimulate some innovation. I see myself as an advocate for nursing. If a resource is in danger of being cancelled, I can advocate for making it available if I see it is valuable to the nursing profession. I am a piece of the overall picture for students — I meet them as undergraduates and follow them through all their educational stages and as they become practicing nurses.
How do you interact with the other Health Sciences Library regional locations?
All of the nursing librarian liaisons interact. There are now six regional campuses for nursing that use the same curriculum—Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, Urbana, the Quad Cities and Springfield. We meet several times per year. We sometimes collaborate on projects and just check in with one another. Since my primary focus is nursing (liaisons at the other regional locations also work with other disciplines), I focus on keeping the regional libraries informed about what is current with nursing at UIC. We come together virtually for workshops and classes on how to use particular databases or mobile resources and invite keynote speakers to present on various topics. We recently created a strategic plan focused on nursing at UIC. We are now beginning the process of implementing the plan.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Meeting with students. I enjoy helping them get started with their research or rethinking their approach to searching for article. Trying to figure out what they really want or need intrigues me. Since students sometimes focus on only one way to search for their research, I show them different search strategies and other search terms that they can use to find what they need. I help them illuminate their ideas.
I also enjoy giving back and mentoring my colleagues who are going through the tenure process. I have been here the longest in my department so I always try to help others by making a personal connection and offering to be another set of eyes reading a draft of their paper or giving feedback on their promotion and tenure paperwork. In 2016, I was given an “Excellence in Mentoring Award” by my peers.
What is your research focused on?
For five years, I collaborated with a colleague at Rush University Medical Center on a joint practicum for library science students and recent graduates from Dominican University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The students spent six weeks at Rush and six weeks at UIC in order to experience working in both private and public science health sciences libraries. We interviewed the participants to see if or where they found jobs, and if the skills they learned during the practicum were transferrable. We plan to submit a paper about the results of our study this year. My colleague, who moved to Northwestern in 2015, and I are still trying to continue the practicum and would like to collaborate on another research project in the future.
I also recently submitted an article on health informatics (HI) in library and information science curricula. Health informatics is an interdisciplinary study of technology’s integration within health care services delivery. Since health informatics is an interdisciplinary field, my colleagues and I looked at courses, certificates and degree programs to determine if library and information science programs were collaborating with other disciplines on health informatics educational offerings. We found that most ALA-accredited programs are offering HI but their collaborations with other programs are inconsistent. Health informatics encompasses many fields. Library schools should partner with institutions via health informatics in order to encourage interdisciplinary exploration. We also analyzed data on other types of informatics. In the next few months I’ll be working on that again. This is an important part of librarianship. We believe students would have a better understanding of the health care field if they were familiar with health informatics. Since health informatics is not being offered within all LIS programs, we also think there should be more continuing education opportunities for librarians to learn more about HI.
How does your research inform your teaching and other aspects of your job responsibilities?
By conducting my own research, I better understand the research process. I know how much time it takes and how difficult it can be for someone to learn how to write about research results. It puts me in the shoes of people I serve.
What should everyone know about the librarian liaison program?
Liaisons are the connection point between the library and the college or the department or hospital. A liaison librarian is the person you can turn to for help finding information or figuring out how to use a database. And that person is also an advocate for their discipline. The liaison is a bridge from the library to the program or discipline.