Sajeesh Kumar, PhD, and Lin Wu, MLIS, AHIP, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) won the faculty division award at the 2017 Rural Health Association of Tennessee (RHAT) Annual Poster Contest. The contest was a part of RHAT’s 23rd annual Rural Health Conference, which was held in November in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Winners received certificates, cash awards and were recognized from the podium. Dr. Kumar and Wu’s presentation was titled “Rural & Remote Health Education: Online Training with Embedded Librarian.”
Dr. Kumar is the interim executive director and chair of the Institute for Health Outcomes and Policy Research and an associate professor in the Department of Health Informatics and Information Management (HIIM) in the College of Health Professions. His research focuses on design and development of telemedicine technology, health education technologies and health informatics technology evaluation. Wu is currently the assistant director and associate professor for Research and Learning Services in the UTHSC Health Sciences Library.
Whether just out of school or returning to school after many years, many rural and remote health science students have difficulties and need help, not only in accessing research resources from off campus, but in knowing what resources and services are available to them. Embedded librarianship is an innovative and different way for a librarian to add value to health science education.
Dr. Kumar and Wu presented a librarian who was fully integrated into a Health Informatics Management (HIM) research course and provided point-of-need research assistance for students who lived far away from campus. The close engagement that forms between embedded librarians, other students, and the health informatics faculty naturally leads to the librarian’s new role as a team member and a collaborator, rather than traditional standalone service provider.
Throughout the course, students received individual attention and support from the librarian. The value and effectiveness of this strategy was evaluated by content analyzing email questions received from the students and also through pre and post-class surveys. “As the interprofessional educational effort seeks an evidence-based approach with meaningful use, this innovative model offers rural and remote students the potential to enhance their health science research knowledge and expertise,” Dr. Kumar said. “It also sends out messages to faculty on what a librarian can contribute effectively to online health sciences courses.”
This year’s conference included speakers from all across Tennessee who presented on topics ranging from healthy community based initiatives, the opioid epidemic, information for new and established rural health clinics, and partnering to improve health outcomes.
“The submissions this year were top notch and offered a plethora of educational concepts that enriched the learning experience for the attendees,” said Rebecca Jolley, MBA, executive director of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee.