Submitted by Liz Fine Weinfurter, Chair, Awards and Scholarship Committee
Bio-Medical Library, University of Minnesota
Emily Ginier, Library and Information Science student, Kent State University
Growing Opportunities was a fitting theme for my first professional conference, especially considering my impending graduation from Kent State University’s Library and Information Science program this December. Participating in the 2012 Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting provided me with a deeper understanding of the field of medical librarianship and an expanded network of contacts that will be useful as I begin my career. The Mentor-Mentee Match-up was a beneficial experience, because it allowed for an in-depth discussion with an established professional about our respective backgrounds. In addition to offering valuable advice, my mentor stimulated my networking by providing initial introductions to many of her contacts.
The conference programming also provided many Growing Opportunities, including the Contributed Paper Sessions and the Poster Session. Although the Professional Practice Committee’s Open Forum breakfast focused on common problems faced by health information professionals, the group’s list of potential solutions left me feeling optimistic about the future of the field. Attending the Poster Session and discussing my future colleagues’ research was a useful learning opportunity. Their first-hand accounts and candid descriptions sparked an interest in research that I hope to carry into my career. Networking with health information professionals and attending the conference events helped me understand how my career could eventually impact the field of medical librarianship.
The mutual respect and camaraderie of the conference planners and Chapter leaders was inspiring. Observing their interactions throughout the conference and especially at the Business Meeting, caused me to reflect on my future career.
Upon receiving the MLA Midwest Chapter Annual Meeting Scholarship, I was very excited to attend the conference and gain perspective on what being a health sciences librarian entails. My weekend in Rochester, Minnesota, was wonderful and I could not have asked for a better experience—everyone was very welcoming, helpful, and offered plentiful advice for the next steps in my education and career.
The conference kicked off with a bang, and we all enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and some tasty microbrews whilst speaking with vendors and getting acquainted. My conference mentor, Amy Donahue, a medical librarian in Milwaukee, graciously answered the extensive list of questions I had! Amy, along with numerous other people I spoke with, assured me that they also stumbled upon medical librarianship and did not necessarily go into their Masters programs knowing this is what they wanted to pursue. I discovered medical librarianship after taking a class focused on women’s health around the world, and this prompted me to do more research on my own, leading to my interest in the dissemination of health information and the promotion of evidence-based maternity care. Attending the conference opened my eyes to the variety of fields in medical librarianship, and expanded my knowledge of issues in the profession.
The keynote speaker, Dave deBronkart, popularly known as e-Patient Dave, was an animated and enthusiastic speaker, and I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation. He was very engaging and was not afraid to get personal as he told us about his brush with death, making him both inspirational and relatable. His message to the medical librarian community is simple: help patients become more engaged with their health care. What made his presentation truly unique were the ideas and thoughts about the future of patient engagement and accessible medical records—he was not merely telling us about what has happened, he gave us ideas about what will happen and how we can contribute to the movement. Looking at his speech from a library student’s perspective, I was motivated and inspired by his experiences and hope to be an advocate for change as I begin my professional career.
Another aspect of the conference that I greatly enjoyed was the presentation of papers and posters by attendees. This gave me insight into the wide range of responsibilities and interests of professionals in the health sciences, and it was great to see the dedication and passion that everyone puts into their work. Another interesting and fun part of the weekend was touring the Mayo Clinic libraries—this gave us all a chance to partake in a social, yet informative activity to wind down the conference. Overall, the conference was quite a valuable experience, and I took a lot of helpful information and advice home with me. I enjoyed the manageable size of the conference because it allowed me to get to know people over the weekend which made it more personal.
Thank you to the Midwest Chapter for awarding me with the Annual Meeting Scholarship—this made it possible for me to attend the conference, and I am very grateful. As I finish the school year and approach graduation, I hope to be able to repay this experience and help other future medical librarians achieve their goals with the same exuberance as the professionals in attendance at this year’s MLA Midwest Chapter Annual Meeting. Thank you again—I hope to see you in Peoria next year!