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Military Medical Librarians Critical to Improving Health for Patients

Image of Military Medical Librarians Critical to Improving Health for Patients. Emily Shohfi, clinical librarian of Darnal Medical Library of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center explains her daily library tasks to a colleague in her office on April 11, 2022. The new Military Health System Medical Library is accessible through a new desktop icon or via health.mil and offers tens of thousands of clinical journals and books. (Photo: Alpha Kamara, WRNMMC)

The Military Health System Medical Library went live on health.mil in the spring of 2023 and provides “access to tens of thousands of clinical journals and books,” said Kimberly Adams, senior library consultant for the MML Organizational Management Office at the Defense Health Agency.

“Many providers stationed at a military hospital or clinic without a library don’t realize that DHA pays for enterprise access to a substantial number of core evidence-based information resources and tools. Several library databases offer free continuing medical education credits,” Adams said.

Behind the scenes, professional librarians maintain and manage the technologies and systems that integrate various information into an online library.

“There’s also a new MML desktop icon that links to the library, and no login is needed to access the resources while on the DHA network,” explained Beatrice Nichols, senior operations manager for the MML OMO. Users can access resources off the network through an OpenAthens account. “With Athens, you can log in from home or other locations where you don’t have network access,” Nichols said.

With so few libraries and librarians on-site at military hospitals and clinics, the MML has become more important across the DHA, Adams said.

How the Medical Library Works

“Because we are among patients, we want to make sure that we get the right information to the right person, at the right time,” Nichols said. “We want to get you connected to your local medical library if you have one, so you can get the best medical library experience that meets your information needs.”

Start at either your local military medical library’s website, or, if you don’t have a local military medical library, go the enterprise site, Nichols explained.

“If you have a local medical library, your local library portal will provide access to the enterprise resources plus additional resources unique to your location. If you start at the MML, you will get only the universal resources,” she said.

Embedded Librarians’ Value to Patient Care

Libraries provide more than just books and journals; librarians provide vital services many do not realize. They often support clinicians on the hospital or clinic floor to provide the most relevant, up-to-date, evidence-based care to patients.

At Brooke Army Medical Center, for example, medical librarian Rachel Montes attends bedside rounds and participates in other clinically relevant forums. “During rounds, I perform patient-specific searches in real time for clinicians and provide them evidence, such as guidelines, systematic reviews, and randomized controlled trials for decision-making at the point of care. I also take advantage of teachable moments during rounds to demonstrate to medical students, interns, residents, fellows, and attending physicians the tools available to help them quickly answer questions,” Montes said.

“After rounds, I return to my desk to address the clinical questions that require more in-depth searches to answer. I also search follow-on questions that emerge during rounds. Such questions are usually dropped, but I’m there to pick up on them and search for answers,” she explained.

“This enhances not only the learning process for the trainees who are part of our graduate medical education program, but also provides attending physicians and critical care nursing teams a unique form of support that allows them to continue their education,” she said.

By being out of the library and on the floor, “I am able to directly impact the clinical team and provide answers to their questions as they may be limited due to time constraints,” Montes said.

For questions about the MML or to report problems accessing enterprise resources, email the management office at: dha.ncr.education-trng.mbx.mhs-medical-library@health.mil.

Resources

The MML offers a wealth of resources at your fingertips.

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Last Updated: September 08, 2023
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