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Medical Librarians

Medical Librarians

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Published by: LIS_141 on Oct 25, 2011
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Health Information and Communication
Health Care Careers Directory 2009-2010
Medical librarians are information professionals who specialize inhealth resources and provide medical information for physicians,allied health professionals, patients, consumers, students, and cor-porations. Using materials ranging from traditional print sourcesto electronic databases, medical librarians devise and use innova-tive strategies to assess and deliver information to their clients.Physicians often call upon medical librarians to provide life-savinginformation for patient care.
Career Description
Medical librarians help improve the quality of patientcare by helping health care professionals stay abreastof new developments and treatments. Additionally,they find relevant health information for patients and consumers,serve as educators for students pursuing health care degrees, andprovide training in the location and use of medical resources.Increasingly medical librarians use technology to design Web sitesand distance education programs and to construct digital libraries.Others work for Internet companies and electronic publishers thatindex and organize information for the Web. Medical librariansalso participate as members of research teams on university cam-puses and serve health care corporations, such as insurance andpharmaceutical companies, by providing information necessary fordeveloping new products and services.In administrative roles, medical librarians serve as directors,chief information officers, and deans or associate deans of infor-mation technology departments. Librarians ensure their informa-tional mission is accomplished by providing leadership and strate-gic planning for their institutions, managing multimillion dollarbudgets, pursuing grant funding, and developing marketing andpublic relations plans for their libraries.Medical librarians work closely with support staff in the library to accomplish day-to-day tasks. Known as medical library assis-tants, these support staff provide critical operations support in allareas of the library, including circulation, serials management,acquisitions, interlibrary loan, cataloging, billing, and referenceservices. Some states have associations and special interest groupsthat support the educational needs of library support staff. Suchorganizations include the New York State Library Assistants’ Asso-ciation (NYSLAA) and the Metropolitan New York Library Coun-cil’s Library Assistants, Support Staff and Associates special inter-est group. NYSLAA sponsors a Certificate of Achievement Programthat recognizes library assistants for their contributions to librar-ies and the library profession.
Employment Characteristics
Medical librarians and medical library assistants areemployed anywhere health information is needed,including hospitals, academic medical centers, clinics,colleges, universities, professional schools, consumer health librar-ies, research centers, foundations, biotechnology centers, insur-ance companies, medical equipment manufacturers,pharmaceutical companies, publishers, and federal state and localgovernment agencies.
Salaries vary according to the type and location of theinstitution, level of responsibility and technical skill,and length of employment. According to the MedicalLibrary Association (MLA), the average starting salary forentry-level medical librarians was $40,832 in 2005. The overallaverage salary for experienced medical librarians was $57,982.Library directors can earn up to $158,600. For more information,refer to www.ama-assn.org/go/hpsalary.
Educational Programs
Programs are 1 to 2 years and result in a mas-ter’s degree.
Medical librarians must have a mas-ter of library and information science degree from an AmericanLibrary Association–accredited school. An undergraduate degreein any field is necessary for admission to a master’s program.Undergraduate courses in biology, medical sciences, medicalterminology, computer science, education, and management arehelpful. Medical librarians may also apply for membership in the Academy of Health Information Professionals, a credentialingprogram for medical librarians sponsored by the Medical Library  Association.
Programs leading to a master of library and infor-mation science degree include a wide variety of courses. All stu-dents take core courses in research, information resources, cata-loging, and management and choose between tracks for public,school, academic, or special libraries. Upon choosing a track, thestudent and academic advisor select courses that reflect the stu-dent’s career goals. Those wishing to focus on systems and technol-ogy will take a variety of technology courses in addition to the coreand specialty track courses. Medical librarianship falls within thespecial library curriculum in many schools of library and informa-tion science. Medical library curriculum courses include resourcesfor consumer health information, resources and services for healthsciences information, medical informatics, and resources and ser- vices for special populations.
Medical Library Association65 East Wacker Place, Suite 1900Chicago, IL 60601-7246312 419-9094312 419-8950 Fax E-mail: mlapd2@mlahq.org www.mlanet.org/career

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