October 1st, 2013


Edit: Thanks Connie for the comment alerting to Managing Burnout in the Workplace: A guide for information professionals

So, to make an incredibly long story short, September was an enormous month of change over here. Our son started middle school (the Summer of Seventh Grade has paid off well thus far), our house was burglarized (stuff is stuff, we are fortunate and so many good people helped to outweigh the bad), we’re waiting for the results of some family health diagnostic testing, and I have resigned my full time position over here.

Wait, what?


This year has shown me that life is short and it was time to implement a career change I’ve been dancing around for quite some time: I’m starting the University of North Texas Learning Technologies program this month, and am seeking part time employment opportunities because I like having my evening hours with my family. I anticipate graduating in December 2014 and being involved more extensively in support of online education, which is undeniably my true passion. Look at the number of posts I managed to write this year – what were most of them about?

However, I have been talking with many of us across the nation about some (or all) of the aspects of making a career change away from librarianship and have noticed an alarming trend: Many of us are not happy. I’m not talking about being unhappy because Starbucks ran out of pumpkin spice syrup or because the satellite dish went out, but extremely unhappy to the point of exhaustion and feeling hopeless about work. This isn’t a healthy way to enter into National Medical Librarians Month!

If this resonates with you in any way, please read The Unscientific Causes and Cure to Burnout and know that you are not alone. Please take care of yourself first and remember we are humans and not machines. Your wellbeing is far, far more important than a job. All of the field’s potential for innovation and progress mean absolutely nothing if the people at the heart & soul of it are burned out and struggling to make it through the day.

There are a lot of ‘What’s next for…’ questions and I don’t have all the answers just yet. Unless the #medlibs community decides to kick me out I’m not planning on leaving, and other leadership/committee decisions involve many other people. I’m not flat out bailing and am excited about a future involving both the information science & learning technologies focus I’ll have, and will continue blogging the journey ahead!

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August 12th, 2013

#medlibs chat for CE: eScience series

Whew. I really wish there still weren’t so many variables at the moment, but the time has come to announce something that a whole heck of a lot of people have been working really hard on:

Week 1: e-Science Portal for New England Librarians
Thursday, August 15, 2013
9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific time
#medlibs Twitter chat

Join your colleagues for the first of a five week series presented by the University of Massachusetts Medical School Lamar Soutter Library eligible for Medical Library Association Continuing Education hours (more on that at the bottom of this post) where we will be discussing the e-Science Portal for New England Librarians (http://esciencelibrary.umassmed.edu/index) and the e-Science Community blog

For more details including how to register for and earn MLA CE, please see the #medlibs blog post at


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July 22nd, 2013

Summer School Alert: Statistics in Medicine

Edit: Thanks for the tip on Harvard’s Health in Numbers MOOC, which will start again on October 15th and is also on the edX platform.

Some similarly interesting upcoming MOOCs from edX’s courses listing include The Impact of Drug Development (September 16th), Fundamentals of Clinical Trials (October 14th), and for those really long range planners Genomic Medicine Gets Personal (March 4, 2014). Keep an eye on their Medicine and Biology/Life Sciences categories which have loads of fascinating topics.

As I gave some early indicators of, my priority this summer is not blogging over here but working hard during the day and teaching the Summer of Seventh Grade (primarily pre-algebra) at night.

However, in an effort to better understand both teaching and learning math, I did something crazy last week and signed up for another free online class about it that has a local study group. It is short, nowhere near the level of coursework of previous MOOCs I’ve attempted, designed very well, despite having over 20,000 students registered has shown no signs of crashing, and uses the edX platform over at Stanford’s online courses.

I’m not sure if other medical librarians were already aware of Stanford’s HRP258 Statistics in Medicine course that launched back in June and runs through August 18th. The description is

This course aims to provide a firm grounding in the foundations of probability and statistics. Specific topics include:

1. Describing data (types of data, data visualization, descriptive statistics)
2. Statistical inference (probability, probability distributions, sampling theory, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, pitfalls of p-values)
3. Specific statistical tests (ttest, ANOVA, linear correlation, non-parametric tests, relative risks, Chi-square test, exact tests, linear regression, logistic regression, survival analysis; how to choose the right statistical test)

The course focuses on real examples from the medical literature and popular press. Each week starts with “teasers,” such as: Should I be worried about lead in lipstick? Should I play the lottery when the jackpot reaches half-a-billion dollars? Does eating red meat increase my risk of being in a traffic accident? We will work our way back from the news coverage to the original study and then to the underlying data. In the process, students will learn how to read, interpret, and critically evaluate the statistics in medical studies.

The course also prepares students to be able to analyze their own data, guiding them on how to choose the correct statistical test and how to avoid common statistical pitfalls. Optional modules cover advanced math topics and basic data analysis in R.

I’m sorry that I missed this one! Registration is still open for the class, but it is a hardcore (8-12 hours per week estimated workload) class that doesn’t sound easy to catch up on. I’d keep an eye out for future offerings of it and related courses as thus far their instructional design and navigability is the best I’ve seen in the MOOC world and I’m learning a lot not just for my summer school teaching but also for my own online course design for effective student learning.

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May 30th, 2013

Future of Health Librarianship: New #medlibs Participation Record

I’m thrilled to announce we’ve set a new participation record during the #medlibs chat on the Future of Health Librarianship for May 30th – 33 particpants cranking out 369 tweets in 75 minutes according to the analytics. Be sure to check out the great conversation in the transcript, and thanks Dean Giustini for diving in as a first time host for the firehose!

How do topics for #medlibs chats happen? If no one signs up to lead them, they’re automatically open mic. Look what happened Wednesday night though –

tweet conversation

Please sign up with your ideas on the form below the #medlibs calendar – the floor is wide open this summer. I am here to help with any and everything you’ll need to set up and have a successful hosting experience with support during most chats, but I am in way over my head both with work and life this summer (just in case you haven’t noticed the blog crickets around here) and can’t do all the #medlibs work myself – let’s keep our great group leadership dynamic going strong!


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April 30th, 2013

MLA Runs, Walks, Whatever4Boston

I’ve completed Day 16 of 26 for my pledge to walk daily in support of the Boston Marathon victims using the Charity Miles app on my phone.

For the next two weeks, Lifeway is not only sponsoring regular Charity Miles donations to the charities we choose to walk, run & bike for they are also paying an additional 25 cents per mile to The One Fund as part of #BostonStrong10K.

During MLA there are a group of runners organized by Bart Ragon & Montie’ Dobbins at MLA Runs4Boston and I piped up and asked if speedwalkers would be welcome because I just can’t pull off running even at a really slow pace.

If you’re like me and want to be with other walkers, come join in! The times the group will leave from the front doors of the Sheraton are

Fri        6:30pm
Sat        6:00am (this will kill me but I’m going to drag my jetlagged Seattle self out the door and DO IT)
Sun       3:30pm
Mon      2:00pm
Tues     4:00pm

If all of us with smartphones used Charity Miles, think of the additional impact we’ll have raising money for The One Fund for free. I’ll have Charity Miles running even when I’m just strolling along seeing the sights of Boston too – every step counts!

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April 28th, 2013

15 Year Dawg

This is pretty surreal to admit:

Anniversary date 4/28/1998

Drumheller Fountain

I was a temporary employee for several months before my April 28th hire date and have blazed through a combination of fixed duration appointments and ‘acting’ assignments, so I have no idea how my years of service to the University of Washington have officially been calculated. It all depends on what type of employee classification you are. My anniversary hasn’t been acknowledged by UW since 2003 due to a number of reasons, but I don’t care and am taking myself shopping to commemorate the occasion anyway! How many Dawgs can say they’ve been continuously employed by the home team for 15 years and aren’t yet 40?

May 1st marks 5 years since my library career change and the 6th is taking some shifts I didn’t know about until recently – away from health informatics and electronic health records (EHRs) and towards new directions including patient engagement. It’s exciting to grow in new directions yet bittersweet to let go, but let go I must for the sake of learning my focus areas well. I’ll still blog here if something about health informatics catches my eye and of course there’s a lot of intersection, but EHRs are one of the tools used to involve patients with their healthcare and do not constitute actual patient engagement. This is something I’m seeing a lot of misunderstanding with current discussions about this area and I’m looking forward to bringing my health informatics background to this direction!

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April 19th, 2013

MLA 2013: Best PR Evah. The End.

Let’s just say I know for a fact that being Local Assistance Committee (LAC) Co-Chair is hard work, especially in the last few weeks ramping up to the meeting coming to town. It is so exciting, to be certain, but you want to make sure everything goes well for people to have a great time while they’re hanging out at your place.

Now, level that up that intensity by… oh, let’s say a thousand for a dangerous situation happening in the neighborhood 2 weeks before MLA.


Moved to tears by Sarah McCord, MLA 2013 LAC Co-Chair for Boston at about 1:37 in

WHDH-TV 7News Boston

This is what Watertown is, and what Boston is. There’s always more helpers than haters. I love this city, I love this town, and this is what it is. This is why no one can break our spirit.

So glad you’re safe and sleeping well tonight, Coug.

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April 17th, 2013

Thursday #medlibs chat: Disaster Information

As I write this Wednesday night, I’m listening to news that numerous trauma and burn patients from the West, TX fertilizer plant explosion are being sent to hospitals all over the area with concerns about toxic gas in the community- a sad heads up to Texas medical library colleagues about the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) resource from the National Library of Medicine.

Please join us at 9pm Easter/6pm Pacific on Thursday night 4/17 for a #medlibs Twitter disaster information chat. The topic this week was… inspired is absolutely the wrong word… by the Boston Marathon tragedy. There wasn’t supposed to be another major disaster this week! I am very grateful for our medical librarian colleagues from NLM and NN/LM stepping up and pitching in to share resources, information and their stories. More details available at the #medlibs blog including a transcript afterwards and I’ll try curating a Storify of resources afterwards although that may take a few days.

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April 16th, 2013

MLA 2013: No Fear

Hole in one golf shot

It’s a beautiful Spring Break vacation week for our family. Yesterday we played miniature golf and haven’t laughed so hard chasing each other around with bumper cars for a long time, completely unaware of what was happening in Boston.

The Medical Library Association (MLA) sent a message out in less than 24 hours that needs to be heard by everyone about our upcoming meeting in Boston, and keep an eye on the official meeting blog for updates.

Update on One Health

We want to let MLA members and other colleagues from around the world who will be participating in the “One Health: Information in an Interdependent World” meeting in Boston that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy and their families and friends. We also express our support and concern for our members, colleagues, and others who live and work in the area and thank those who have communicated with us.

MLA is in contact with the meeting hotels who have reported that they are open and are providing help as needed. The John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center is also open. We anticipate no changes with regard to the “One Health” meeting, other than increased security. Members and staff are looking forward to welcoming attendees to the meeting next month and supporting the city of Boston during this difficult time. We will continue to update members and attendees as needed. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

Yesterday, instead of sitting and watching the news on repeat, I headed out the door for a walk. I made a commitment to walk for 26 days in honor of the Boston Marathon victims for Charity Miles supporting Achilles International. That will include those long Seattle to Boston travel days and each day of the meeting.  If you’re out walking, running or cycling during our time in Boston and have a smartphone I encourage you to consider doing the same – think of the positive impact this could have not only for your health, but if hundreds of us did as One Voice of support for injured athletes.

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April 9th, 2013

Khan Academy: Medical Education and Lessons for Librarians

Recently I read The One World School House by Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy. We are already diving into Khan Academy with gusto and gratitude because while our son will complete his 6th grade coursework in June (he’s in 5th grade, our district doesn’t skip grades but accelerates curriculum) he’ll cover 7th grade coursework this summer with us so he is prepared for another jump ahead to 8th grade coursework in the fall.

This excerpt in particular has been resonating with me, from pages 251-252

The school I envision would embrace technology not for its own sake, but as a means to improve deep conceptual understanding, to make quality, relevant education far more portable and – somewhat counterintuitively – to humanize the classroom. It would raise both the status and the morale of teachers by freeing them from the drudgery and allowing them more time to teach, to help. It would give students more independence and control, allowing they to claim true ownership of their educations.

To humanize the classroom with technology.

I love this. I sincerely care about both the subject I’m teaching and my students being able to deeply understand it, regardless of if I’m teaching in person or via distance learning. I don’t want to be a presence of disembodied pixels scratching a superficial surface of learning. I try to keep authenticity at the core of every webcast I host and/or present, every Moodle course I teach, and in our Thursday night #medlibs chats. I have been thrilled to see so many new students and colleagues joining in, and am so thankful for everyone stepping up to share in leadership of the discussion.

So how does all of this tie in to medical education, let alone medical librarianship?

Did you know Khan Academy already has a Healthcare and Medicine section with some really great resource videos? Last week the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced a collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges and Khan Academy to provide free online resources to help students prepare for the revised Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) coming in 2015.

Per the news announcement

“This exciting new collaboration with Khan Academy and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will provide all students with free access to high-quality online educational materials to help them prepare for the revised MCAT exam in 2015,” said Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and CEO of the AAMC, the organization that administers the MCAT exam. “We view this effort as an important addition to the work the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are doing to encourage and attract future physicians from diverse backgrounds, including students from economically and educationally disadvantaged communities.”

Medical students and residents are encouraged to find out more at MCAT Video Competition, but I especially encourage librarians to scroll down that page a bit and check out out the wealth of resources under How To Make a Khan Academy Video. The guidance and tips there are key for all effective and engaging instructional videos. Think of your screencast tutorials and Jing recordings on your library website/LibGuides – is there potential for some revamping?

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