Getting Started with Health Information Outreach

On the first day of Midwest/MHSLA 2017, I attended Getting Started with Community Health Information Outreach, taught by Darlene Kaskie. In this course, attendees learned how to examine specific populations for targeted outreach initiatives.

To do this, we first discussed the various resources available for getting a clearer picture of the populations in certain communities. By utilizing census data and other government health resources, it is possible to develop a better understanding of the demographic makeup of specific communities, as well as the health needs in those areas.

Throughout the course, there was an emphasis on learning and asking questions. For example, if you wanted to speak to a demographic that was culturally different from groups you had worked with previously, it’s important to develop an understanding of that group before trying to start an outreach project. So, if you were working with senior citizens who had limited understanding of mobile technologies, you may not want to lead with the cutting edge mobile apps available to them. However, by communicating with your targeted group and asking questions, you could learn what their particular struggles and health issues might be and how you as an information professional may be able to address them.

One way to learn more about a community is to seek out a community health assessment for that particular region. If an agency or institution has already conducted a community health assessment, you can easily determine what the health needs are for that particular area. Examining a community health assessment also allows you to easily target potential partners for your outreach efforts.

In addition to learning how to target and explore specific communities for outreach efforts, we also discussed NLM and other government resources that are freely available, including MedlinePlus, HealthReach, Genetics Home Reference, and the Disaster Information Management Resource Center.

I have always enjoyed attending conferences for the educational opportunities that help me keep abreast of advancements in our field. These courses teach us how other librarians are problem solving, expanding their roles, and developing new strategies to best utilize their skills in an ever-changing environment. Both continuing education courses I attended at Midwest/MHSLA 2017 gave me the chance to learn about new (or new to me) resources and how librarians are harnessing these tools to create new roles for themselves.

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