Post Conference Report from MAC Scholar

Oh, for the chance to be in two places at once!

Had I such a power, the MAC/MLA TriChapter Conference would have been the perfect venue to deploy it.  The best practices sessions simultaneously offered tips for managing electronic resources, librarians as learners, and health literacy.  Or, on day 2, interfacing library resources with the e-record, e-patients and the personal health record, and patient social networking.  It was almost impossible to choose, but somehow, someway, I did.

The 2009 MAC Conference Scholarship provided me with the opportunity to attend both my first professional conference and the MAC Annual Meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  I was paired with Lois Culler, Director of the Health Sciences Library, Inova Fairfax Hospital, in Falls Church, Virginia.  Lois is friendly, kind, gracious, and a wonderful librarian—as evidenced by her award as MAC Librarian of the Year at the business meeting.  Lois was an exceedingly helpful mentor, patient with my incessant questions, and generous with her knowledge of librarianship. 

The conference keynote speakers, Dr. PM Forni and Lee Rainie, were engaging and eloquent.  Dr. Forni’s presentation on civility was outstanding.  He spoke of civility as the “benevolent awareness of others” and when we practice civility, we “weave restraint, respect, and consideration into the very fabric of this awareness.”  If you were unable to hear him speak, I recommend seeking out the opportunity.  His diction, lilting accented words, and presentation skills make an impressive combination.  Mr. Rainie’s talk on trends in the use of digital technology for health purposes, covered everything from cloud computing, to how the information ecosystem changes, and characteristics of networked individuals.  He offered two kernels of wisdom to keep in mind, “we live in a state of continuous partial attention” and “patients are not patient.”

The two CE classes I attended were Hands-On Web 2.0 and Librarians: Let’s Escape the Box.  Greg Notess’ course was extremely interesting and timely.  The methods and means to compute in the “cloud”—often for little or no cost—were described, and creating a survey and embedding it on a webpage were practiced in the class.  Since my return from the conference, I have applied my new skills by creating a survey and using a pdf page editor.  In Diane Wolf’s course, we participated in a group exercise in which my amazingly talented group members assisted me with a program proposal that I intend to submit in my health system.  (Thank you, Mindy & Helen-Ann!)

The Hospital Librarians Luncheon was positively magnetic, with the energy from Karen Drenkard, Director of the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program, filling the room.  Karen clarified some misconceptions about Magnet status, reminding the librarians present that Magnet accreditation is a credential.  Although some librarians hoped that the ANCC would add the requirement that Magnet designated hospitals have a hospital librarian on staff, Karen described how the Magnet program is not designed to dictate hospital policy.  In anticipation of her presentation to our group, Karen created a survey about the partnership between hospital librarians and chief nursing officers in Magnet hospitals.  She shared her findings with us, and the results show a strong relationship between hospital librarians and the nursing leadership.    

I heard many librarians say that this conference was one of the best ever, and while I do not have any past attendance to compare it to, I found the experience to be very educational.  I returned to work feeling rejuvenated and excited about all the ideas I saw and heard presented at the conference.  The poster presentations were founts of inspiration, the speakers and presenters were well spoken and clearly elucidated their topics, and the librarians I met in social settings were friendly and fun. 

My mission at the conference was to make connections with other health science librarians, attend sessions to expand my knowledge, and meet with vendors to talk about products and services.  I achieved all these goals, and I had a great time at the conference.  Thank you so much for choosing me as the MAC/MLA Conference Scholar for 2009.  

Andrea Hilliard
Medical Librarian
Mary Washington Healthcare
Fredericksburg, Virginia

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