Time to rethink the role of the library in educating doctors: driving information literacy in the clinical environment

J Med Libr Assoc. 2012 Oct;100(4):291-6. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.100.4.011.


Question: Can information literacy (IL) be embedded into the curriculum and clinical environment to facilitate patient care and lifelong learning?

Setting: The Australian School of Advanced Medicine (ASAM) provides competence-based programs incorporating patient-centred care and lifelong learning. ASAM librarians use outcomes-based educational theory to embed and assess IL into ASAM's educational and clinical environments.

Methods: A competence-based IL program was developed where learning outcomes were linked to current patients and assessed with checklists. Weekly case presentations included clinicians' literature search strategies, results, and conclusions. Librarians provided support to clinicians' literature searches and assessed their presentations using a checklist.

Main results: Outcome data showed clinicians' searching skills improved over time; however, advanced MEDLINE searching remained challenging for some. Recommendations are provided.

Conclusion: IL learning that takes place in context using measurable outcomes is more meaningful, is enduring, and likely contributes to patient care. Competence-based assessment drives learning in this environment.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Computer Literacy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration
  • Educational Measurement / statistics & numerical data
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / education*
  • Humans
  • Information Literacy*
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Librarians
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods