Posts tagged - Library Student Perspective

A Library Student at MLA ’14 – tweckling, the ACA and other Lessons Learned

Due to my work schedule and family commitments, Sunday was my last day at MLA ’14. Besides being tired from travel and not wanting to write last night, I also put off posting my report on my third day at MLA because I didn’t want to post this right after Kelly Thormodson’s “And it begins!” post. Although I learned a lot and experienced a lot in three packed days, I think my goal for the next MLA will be to take it a bit slower and perhaps spend more time on fewer things.

That being said I guess I have to tackle the Big Issue we all considered yesterday as we listened to Dr. Aaron E. Carroll deliver the John P. McGovern Award lecture, “The Affordable Care Act: Health Care Reform Is Far From Over.” Over the past few years I have learned not to bring up Obamacare on social media unless I am prepared for never-ending and frustrating debates with some guy I went to high school with and my wife’s second cousin’s friend. If my Facebook interactions are even a skewed measure of how people understand and feel about the current state of healthcare in America, then this lecture is still timely even four years after Obamacare became law.

As Dr. Carroll spoke, I began to understand why healthcare is such a big issue. As his graphs showed (and everyone retweeted and tweckled), we don’t have a spending problem or a social security problem we have a healthcare problem. Once again I fell into my MLA ’14 pitfall of trying furiously to understand, take notes and tweet about what I was learning all at the same time.  (Wait, was that smoke coming from the touch screen of my iPad??!!) Finally I sat back and just began to listen to what Dr. Carroll was saying. I agree with Rachel Harrison’s blog entry below, that his explanation of Obamacare was the most clear cut and fact-based explanation I have heard to date. His rule of threes, from the Iron Triangle of Cost, Quality and Access to his Three Legged Stool of Regulations, Individual Mandate and Subsidies helped to make a complex and emotional issue more rational and understandable.  His lecture gave me a clear overview of the challenges we face as healthcare professionals and a new rational voice to listen to.

I wish I could say that after my first experience at MLA ’14 I am now a master at statistics, electronic health records, iPad apps and the Affordable Care Act. Was I too ambitious in my goal setting, perhaps? But what can I say? Like a good librarian I gathered and organized my resources (or I will be this week).  So now I have an answer to the following questions:

Q: Where would I go for a primer on how to assess statistics published in medical journals?
A: Steve Simon’s retro webpage at and his book “Statistical Evidence in Medical Trials: Mountain or Molehill, What Do the Data Really Tell Us?

Q: I want to see what a typical Electronic Health Record System (EHR) looks like, but my hospital won’t give me access. How can I find out what EHRs are all about?
A: Set up a free account and enter some fictitious patients in Practice Fusion and see what functions are common to most EHRs, without worrying about HIPAA or institutional red-tape.

Q: I want to jump on the bandwagon and really use my iPad. What free apps are out there for Medical Professionals?
A: Start with the National Library of Medicine’s “Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites

Q: My sister’s friend’s uncle says Obamacare will ruin this country. Where can I go to read the latest information from an expert?
A: Try The Incidental Economist blog (Affordable Care Act tag) where Dr. Aaron Carroll is an Editor.

Q: Can you beat @TonyNguyen411 at silly selfies?
A: No!

Q: What is tweckling?

So for all you #medlibs and fellow library students still in Chicago, don’t be afraid to jump into the deep end of the pool with the big kids. Have fun, and learn a lot but remember to pace yourselves. There are more MLA’s coming: Austin, Toronto, Seattle, Atlanta and back in Chi-town in 2019! I know I’ll be there next time!

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A Library Student at MLA ’14 – Pacing Myself

I have heard several of my medical librarian colleagues commenting on how it is necessary to pace yourself when attending the MLA Conference.

Yesterday I felt like I jumped into the deep end of the pool with a sink-or-swim attitude.  Today was no different, but I am learning to take the time to enjoy being here, while not being in a frenzy.  There is so much to see and do on the MLA Schedule and in Chicago, that it is tempting to try to do it all, see it all and understand it all.  Not possible.

Here’s my rule of thumb: when all three of your mobile devices shut down you should probably lie down too and take a rest while they are recharging.

When you wake up ask yourself what is possible to accomplish during MLA 14?  Here’s what I’m doing: making some connections, having some conversations, taking notes on Google Docs, gathering business cards and emails, and stopping by interesting Chicago places, if only for a moment.

Here’s my list of things that I’ve enjoyed so far, starting with a few tips on Chicago:

Food: I love Indian food and had a great lunch buffet at Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine about a 20 minute walk north on Michigan Avenue at Walton Street.  The food was well done and there were plenty of vegetarian options.  About 10 people waited on me, but the buffet was only $13.95.  For dessert they had the best gulab jamun I have ever tasted.

Sightseeing:  My nephew who lives here in downtown Chicago said that if you want to view the city from the Hancock Tower, it is a better deal to go to the Signature Lounge on the 95th floor and buy a $10 drink than to pay the same money to go to the observation deck.  We went there last night and the views were awesome, as well as the Tanqueray and tonic!

If you find yourself up by Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine for a hands on CE class, stop by the Museum of Contemporary Art, just across the street.  Right now they have an exhibit of Zachary Cahill’s work which explores the “implications of art as a therapeutic exercise.”  I enjoyed a 30 minute art therapy session after my CE class this morning.

CE Courses:  Technology was the theme of my continuing education courses today.  At 7 am a group of MLA attendees gathered in the lobby and walked about 12 blocks (20 minutes) north along Michigan Avenue (not stopping to shop) to Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  There I attended CE202: Breaking an Electronic Health Record (EHR) System: a sandbox workshop by PJ Grier from NNLM/SEA.  Once again I was overwhelmed with excellent and idea-provoking information.  Wireless and personalized medicine (a la Dr. Eric Topol)?  The necessity of the librarian to advocate for a defined role in the Electronic Health Record? Meaningful Use 1, 2 and 3? HIMSS? Health Level Seven?  Took notes so I can read up on all this fascinating and important information!!!  Not to mention taking some time to explore a freely available sample EHR system in Practice Fusion.

Then a quick walk back to the Hyatt for CE501-Information at Your Fingertips: Tablet Technology by Emily Hurst of NNLM/SCR.  I did not know about all the mobile sites and mobile apps that the NLM makes available for us: Also going to spend some time looking at Bloomin’ Apps (iPad Apps to support Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy) and the Padagogy Wheel which “shows teachers that the pedagogy should drive the technology and not the other way around.”

So that is why I am now resting and reflecting on the day, while everything recharges.  (Good thing my Chromebook can recharge while I type!)  My second day at MLA ’14 is in the books, and I paced myself – didn’t go back for seconds at the Indian buffet – and satisfied myself with taking notes, knowing that I’ll have time when I get home to review it all at leisure.  Now, let me check my devices to see if they’re recharged yet . . .



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A Library Student at MLA ’14 – Jumping into the Deep End!

Hello, I am Don Pearson from Mount Carmel Health Sciences Library in Columbus, Ohio and I am blogging about the MLA ’14 from a Library Student Perspective.  I am just beginning the MLIS program at Kent State University, although I have been working in libraries for several years, and with computers for much longer.  Coming to this conference for the first time seems quite overwhelming, just as it is coming from Columbus, Ohio to big city Chicago.

My traveling companions and I arrived by car last night (Thursday) and experienced a very quick and painless parking and check-in experience at the Hyatt.  It is very large, beautiful, and modern. In fact, the MLA venue this year, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, with 2019 guest rooms is the largest hotel in Chicago (according to Chicago Business).  My companions and I marveled at the huge number of buttons in the elevator as we headed to our room on the 14th floor.  I realized that I hadn’t been in a building over 10 stories in more than a year.  But we’re OK, we parked our car, found our room, got some food and a good nights rest.

Speaking of food here are some good places we found last night and this morning.  All are within 2 blocks of the hotel.  Bockwinkel’s for groceries is right behind the hotel. Giordanos Pizza at 135 E. Lake Street is about 2 blocks away and really satisfied the need for Chicago deep dish.  The Corner Bakery at Michigan and Wacker  had great coffee and Apple Hand Pie.

I think from the beginning the theme of this conference for me is that I feel like I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool.  Big city, big hotel, big conference, big ideas and lots of learning to do.  But so far so good and so far I’ve come up swimming.  I’m taking my lunch break on Friday to write this, while I think about statistics.  I’m in the middle of CE700 – Statistical Literacy for Medical Librarians: Swimming in a Sea of Conflicting Medical Claims.  I know less about research statistics than I know about medical librarianship, but I’m glad I took this class.  Even though much of this is going over my head, I was reassured by Steve Simon, one of the presenters, who said,

“The one who knows the least benefits the most from my class. You will learn more than anyone else.”

That is certainly true for me and I’ll hang on to this quote as a memento from this conference.  Even though I jumped into the deep end by even coming here, because I’m starting from zero, I think I will learn more than anyone else!