AM08 2008 START Conference Manager    

The Potential Role of ILS Schools in Educating Medical Informationists

Barbara Wildemuth, Peggy Schaeffer, Claudia Gollop, Connie Schardt and Patricia Thibodeau

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


Because the information world of medical professionals is complex and ever-expanding, a new type of information professional the medical informationist is needed to serve as a liaison between that world of information and the world of medicine. Based on interviews with about 50 physicians with information-focused careers and/or training in information science, we compiled a set of core knowledge and skills needed by medical informationists to be able to successfully fill this role. To address the question of whether schools of information and library science have the capability to provide education in these needed areas, we are analyzing the curricula (i.e., the course descriptions) offered by 19 ILS schools in the U.S., identified for their strengths in the health sciences. Analyses of six schools have been completed so far; the remainder will be completed over the next few weeks. Any course that responds wholly or partially to one of the needed skills or knowledge areas is noted. These results from individual schools are then being aggregated to provide an overview of the capabilities (and weaknesses) of ILS schools.

Thirteen topics in technology were fairly well covered in the six schools analyzed so far, though there were gaps on health records and interoperability. All of the 10 topics related to content were at least partially covered, with the single exception of education about specific medical coding systems, such as SnoMed. Two of the three topics related to system users and people needing medical information were covered well, though no courses were identified that were described as covering user-centered design or socio-technical design. Communication and interpersonal skills are being taught in many ILS schools, but ethics was the only topic related to intellectual outlook and personal attributes that was covered in these curricula.

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