This article from MedPageToday demonstrates the difficulty that healthcare professionals face in keeping up with medical research during the information explosion. In a time when increasing numbers of people understand the critical nature of evidence-based practice, health care providers themselves are monitoring the evidence less and less. The author discovered that out of 200 health care professionals polled at a conference, zero respondents routinely read an issue of a journal important in their field.
When overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information available, a sense of paralysis can often develop. Providers don’t read anything, because there is simply too much to read.
Librarians can help with this deluge of information. We have the information literacy skillsets to help identify, prioritize, evaluate, and manage information so that a health care provider can stay on top of important trends while not drowning in the sea of articles.
A presentation I provided to a local nurses association several years ago may offer a way to frame this for health care providers facing information overload. Combining information literacy with Connectivism learning theory (Seimans, 2004) and a Networked Student Learning Model (Drexler, 2010), I proposed a way forward for nurses to monitor, access and prioritize information.
In this model that I coined The Connected Nurse, the nurse utilizes networks from four domains: information management, contacts, synchronous communication, and RSS. The nurse learns how to harness technology to manage information effectively. The nurse identifies experts who may have information she needs. The nurse communicates with contacts synchronously to address urgent information needs. Finally, the nurse prioritizes and monitors RSS and social media information to identify medical trends, using information management tools to manage and prevent information overload.
The Connected Nurse model recognizes that information comes from more than just journal articles; we are surrounded by information from many formats. It is important to identify those sources, prioritize the materials, rigorously evaluate claims, and manage the content harvested from journals, people, synchronous and asynchronous communication and social media.
The librarian has a critical role to play in helping health care professionals become Connected in ways that do not overwhelm, but instead empower. Only empowered, connected health care professionals can truly practice evidence-based medicine, confident in their ability to identify, prioritize, access, evaluate, and implement evidence to improve patient care.
Drexler, W. (2010). The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 369–385. Retrieved from http://ajet.org.au/index.php/AJET
Seimens, G. (2004). Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm