High quality information is essential for high quality medical education, clinical care and research. We propose hiring an information specialist whose primary responsibility will be to support students and faculty in the Medical College. The specialist would report to the Dean and work closely with students and faculty to facilitate integrating the best available evidence into classroom teaching, academic activities and clinical care. Specific responsibilities would include training faculty on best practices for finding and using information for medical education (e.g., how to use HINARI to access current journal articles and textbooks for free), and delivering an information literacy curriculum to all students in the Medical College.
There is a precedent for this. As part of their MEPI project, the University of Zimbabwe librarian has been systematically training all faculty in information literacy theory and hands-on literature searching skills. At the University of Zimbabwe, all students have participated in an information literacy curriculum called “Finding, Organising and using Medical Information” that was created by the Network of African Medical Librarians and Deans with support from the US National Library of Medicine. The curriculum would be available for use at KCMC, and several web-based videos are available online. (examples below)
- To integrate the best available evidence into classroom teaching, academic activities, and clinical care.
- To increase and promote the scholarly output from KCMC research.
Initial target: MD1 and MD2 and all faculty. Increase support to additional years of medical students each year.
Need at KCM: faculty support; newer resources on which to base teaching, learning and clinical care; teaching information literacy and evidence-based medicine skills
- Promoting and increasing the use of existing resources (e.g., HINARI) into academic lectures and student work.
- Promoting and increasing the use of existing resources (e.g., HINARI) into students’ and faculty members’ clinical practice.
- Integrating evidence-based practice skills into clinical training.
- Improving students’ academic papers, measured by the quality of citations.
- Supporting and promoting institutional research published by KCMC faculty and students.
- Transforming the academic culture into one that is research- and evidence-based.
In addition to offering training and support to both faculty and students, the information specialist would work with the KCMC library and library consortia in Tanzania to investigate and evaluate print and electronic resources, such as online textbooks, for potential purchase. He or she would also coordinate any electronic or print reserves to make it easier for faculty to assign readings to students. Ideally, this position could also support faculty efforts in conducting research within medical education by helping faculty identify similar projects that have been published and by helping faculty with the writing and publication process.
An information specialist could help create a culture of research and evidence-based practice, increase the use of existing resources such as HINARI, improve the quality of citations in student papers, and increase faculty satisfaction and confidence. The budget would include the cost of the salary for the first year ($15,000 USD – $20,000 USD) which could be shifted to KCMC by 25% for each subsequent year. The budget should also include some supporting materials, including a computer and a small budget to purchase additional resources (e.g., online textbook demonstrated as indispensable) as needed.