EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

A blog for medical students, faculty and librarians about their use of evidence based medicine, clinical literature, Web 2.0, sources and search strategies

Category Archives: Other Stuff

News, Medicine, Librarians, Blogosphere: Participate in Medlib’s Blog Carnival – June 2010

Image/Photo Credit: http://blogcarnival.com/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

Big News!

EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC has been invited to host Medlib’s Round Blog Carnival for the month of  June 2010. How does this work?  Here is an excerpt from the Blog Carnival FAQ page:

Welcome to the Blog Carnival page! We love the idea of blog carnivals where someone takes the time to find really good blog posts on a given topic, and then puts all those posts together in a blog post called a “carnival”… Carnivals are an edited (and usually annotated) collection of links that lets them serve as “magazines” within the blogosphere…

Since blog carnivals include lots of posts on specific topics, they also serve as a place to connect with those who are expert (or at least highly opinionated!) and those who are interested in that field. Blog Carnival simplifies carnivals for two kinds of people:  People who read and contribute to blog carnivals, and  people who organize and publish blog carnivals.

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What is the subject for Medlib’s Round Blog Carnival?

As a reference and public services librarian, over the years I have assembled a group of classic questions or library patrons in my mind that could be summarized as:  Questions (or People) I’ll Always Remember at the Health Science Library“.

This intent of this collaboration is learn more about the unique experiences of others librarians worldwide, or from those who work with health science librarians to teach, train and find medical information.  

Who should submit to the Medlib’s Round?

Bloggers from around the world

Medical/reference  librarians, folks who blog about clinical reasoning, evidence-based medicine, teaching and learning medicine (or practicing medicine).  I would appreciate hearing from physician- or scientist-bloggers who collaborate with health science librarians, medical students and others as they use digital library collections.

What should I write about?

Funny, sad, poignant, teachable moments (or people) encountered in your health science library.

  • Librarians: Please share some positive “memorable” encounters that took place in a public service/reference desk setting, over your career.
  • Clinicians, researchers,  pharmacists, graduate students, nurses: If your clinical or educational work as a scientist or care-provider has been positively enhanced by working with a librarian or librarian-instructors in health science library settings, please share your stories with us.

Is there a deadline to submit an entry?

Yes – please write your article, post it to your blog and send it to BlogCarnival.com no later than Tuesday, June 8th.

OK – I have an article to share.  Now what do I do?

First, go this link at BlogCarnival.com and paste the URL of your blog post using their online form.  You’ll need to also type in your name and email address.  (See screenshot below).  BlogCarnival will manage it from there.

Image/Photo Credit: http://blogcarnival.com/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

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Questions – I have Questions. Who do I ask? Send an email message to ebmblog@gmail.com.  Thanks in advance!

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News, Medical Students, Charity Fundraiser ~ Tonight! Monday May 3

Every year since 2006, a group of medical students from UConn School of Medicine volunteer to ride 4,000 miles on a bicycle over 50+ days to raise money for Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research, a Connecticut charity.  This event is named Coast to Coast for a Cure.

Tonight – Monday, May 3, 2010 – a fund-raising event for Lea’s Foundation will be held at UCHC: the world premier of  an original comic opera entitled “The Far-Flung Empire of the Soul“, complete with puppets and live orchestra!

The opera was composed by the Health Center’s four 2010 Coast to Coast Riders for a Cure riders: Loreen Fournier, Stacy White, Arturo Montano, and Alex Ocampo.

A screenshot of the poster announcing details about tonight’s live performance, which starts at 7:30pm in Keller Auditorium at UCHC, is shown below.

Please attend!

Photo credit: http://www.uchc.edu – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

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Ben Ristau and Jeremiah Tracy were the first UCHC medical students to make the trip from San Francisco to the Connecticut shoreline in June 2006.  They raised $20,000 for Lea’s Foundation that year.

This year – on June 16 2010 – the four bicyclists will fly to California with their equipment to begin their cross-country trek from San Francisco to Connecticut.

On their journey east-ward, they’ll travel approximately 4,000 miles over eight weeks; daily travel progress will be dependent on climate, traffic and road conditions (and their own personal energies).  My goodness, that’s a lot of miles on two skinny tires!

Photo credit: http://www.coasttocoastforacure2010.blogspot.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

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Below are links to news articles or videos about previous Coast to Coast for a Cure participants.

  • One of the 2009 bicyclists, med student Drew Cathers, created this video about their trip, posted on YouTube:

Photo credit: http://www.youtube.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010
  • A blog written by Daniel Morris about the 2008 trip offers up the following cumulative statistics about their journey:  “ Total Miles: 3889.  Most miles in one day (Pueblo-Eads, CO): 125.  Fewest miles in one day (Rico-Telluride, CO): 36.  Days to get from San Francisco to Farmington, Connecticut: 53.  Seven rest days.  One day of rain.  Twelve states crossed.  Eight nights in Utah, the longest time in one state.  One night each in Illinois and New York, the shortest states “.

Teaching & Learning in Medicine, Research Methodology, Biostatistics: Show Me the Evidence (Part 1)

Question everything… especially what you read.

A 2009 quote from Dr. P,  PBL facilitator

.One of the many tasks for first-year graduate students in clinical or research areas is building a healthy skepticism about what one reads in the medical literature.

Ideally, as they progress through four years of medical education, students find that they must change their approach to searching as well as exploring what new resources will answer their questions of increasing complexity.  What answered their learning issues in their first year often doesn’t carry over to their third-year clerkship, when they are faced with finding solutions to the care of actual living patients.

This evolution (both practical and intellectual) asks that they grow a set of appraisal techniques for examining, embracing or rejecting what they find in the ever-increasing assortment of health science, pharmacology or social science databases available to them. (Note that I’m not referring to what can be found by simply plugging a few words into a search engine.)

And very likely, they jettison the use of a few previously well-used resources  as their clinical questions and experience become more complex.

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.Separate what is of statistical importance from what is clinically significant.

Another 2009 quote from Dr. P

As a facilitator for PBL, many first-year students have stated in class that they rely most on the library’s subscription to the Access Medicine* collection – including Harrisons’ Online – as a “first place” to go to do research.

It is what the librarians consider as a sort of a “package product”.  This subscription resource has developed in major ways over the years which UCHC Library has been providing it for our users.

As examples: there are now 60 core medical textbooks on the site, lists of DDx criteria, audio cases, calculators and clinical videos, podcasts, study guides for USMLE.  The library added subscriptions to Access Surgery and Access Emergency Medicine when they became available from the company.

Residents especially appreciate having 24×7 access to these resources.

And truly, we librarians were thrilled back in 1999 when the subscription to a digital version of Harrisons’ Principals of Internal Medicine was rolled out.  LOL.  (Link here to an academic paper from 1999 reviewing the resource.)  Back then, the medical and dental students were excited about this 16th digital edition too, although most of them elected to purchase their own hardbound copy of the textbook.  These memories seem a little quaint from eleven years on.

In 2010, here’s a screenshot of the newly-redesigned Access Medicine front page:

Photo/Text source: http://www.accessmedicine.com/features.aspx – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010
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What are other examples of what librarians consider garden-variety “packaged databases” that are frequently mentioned by first year students as essential to their research?

MD-Consult*, Up to Date* and for locating primary studies (or for “just shopping around” as one student said), PubMed.

As librarians (and instructors) a major teaching role for us is to encourage their exploration… and also to model the effective use of these information resources.  Feedback from students or faculty on the nature of their experiences as they  “consume” these products is very important.

And (dare I mention!) the librarians are there in the classrooms to also reinforce that using sources such as Google or Google Scholar to do credible clinical research represent truly two of the least satisfactory choices but also the ones most easily or readily available.   (Sigh.)

There are many free information sites in the world… the librarians don’t use or teach (or endorse) many of them. Why? Not because we are close-minded, too traditional, or old and cranky. This is a conversation thread that will be continued in Part 2 of this post.

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Seeing a dozen patients with XYZ syndrome will significantly increase their practical assessment skills.  So will participating in the care of a patient that even the seasoned clinicians and experts haven’t yet figured out a diagnosis for. A common short-hand for diagnostic skills is Horses versus Zebras.

Learning to comb the literature for clinically-sound research studies – and weighing what has been found for validity or predictive value – are skills not easily learned.  Is four years sufficient time for practice in this pick-and-choose process?

Many students in their third and fourth year of study come back to meet with the reference librarians for a “refresher course” on how to search more efficiently, as they begin their required fourth year individual research project (called their “selective“).

I consider these reference training sessions with students as excellent indicators that they are growing quite sophisticated about what they consider to be “good” evidence.  Getting choosy is a wonderful thing.

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* Please note: Resources mentioned are subscriptions and limited to UCHC students, staff and faculty only.  If off-site, use the Library’s proxy access to connect to them.

News, Public Health, Haiti: Humanitarian Mission, and a new YouTube channel

This week, eleven clinical staff from University of Connecticut Health Center are volunteering for a medical humanitarian mission in Port au Prince, Haiti organized by International Medical Corps.

They left Connecticut on March 18th and will be there for 16 days.  Below is a photo of  UConn physicians Lynn Kosowicz and Susan Levine:


Thanks to Dr. Cato Laurencin’s blog for providing an update about this humanitarian mission.

I bet there will be many compelling stories to be heard about their clinical (and life) experiences when this group returns.

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UCHC now has a channel on YouTube.com.

An interview on YouTube (filmed Feb 18 2010) shows physicians Robert Fuller, medical director of UCHC Emergency Department, and Stanford University surgeon Paul Auerbach who were among the first emergency medical response teams to arrive in the capital city after the Jan 12th earthquake.

Cardiac Physiology, History of Medicine, Digital Collections: Timelines and History for ECG

The first year medical and dental students are studying cardiac electrophysiology this month.  The Dubin book* (6th edition) is currently a hot item in the library reserve section.

Answering a reference question for a cardiologist this week on the topic of Medicine, Arts and Humanities, I came across a unique site, a timeline called “A Brief History of ECG“.  Nice.

Then I found the home page of The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) which links to a section explaining “Electricity and the Heart“.

On the HRS page, there is timeline arranged by decade, which has the stated purpose of: ” …trac[ing] the evolution of the fields of cardiac pacing, cardiac electro-physiology and implantable cardioversion-defibrillation through a tour of historic devices and other material significant to the fields. ”

Below is a screenshot of their Timeline 1970’s:

Image Credit: The Heart Rhythm Society Timeline – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

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Here are a few additional ECG teaching-and-learning sites:

  • Looking for a site you could easily spend hours in practicing ECG strip-interpretations? Try ECG-Maven, created by four physicians from Harvard University School of Medicine, has dozens of cases and quizzes.

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Finally, I’d like to mention finding a real treasure trove of a site: Exploring and Collecting History Online (ECHO), a digital history/directory site created by librarians at George Mason University, who describe their page in this way:

ECHO is a portal to over 5,000 websites concerning the history of science, technology, and industry… it is also a first step into the field of digital history.  Since 2001 it has been a laboratory for experimentation in this new field, and it fosters communication and dialog among historians, scientists, engineers, doctors, and technologists “.

Text credit: George Mason University – ECHO – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

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* Editors Note:  The author, Dale Dubin, MD, has a website which is meant to serve a a companion to the book.

The Friday Post #47: Holidays Galore! St. Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, 2010 Olympics-Vancouver

This is the Friday Post #47 for Feb 12 2010.  Back to blogging, after  a few challenging instructional weeks.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day – Sunday, Feb 14 2010

Image Credit:   http://www.cynthiahoweminiatures.com/sendcard/ – All Rights Reserved – Copyright 2010

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Gung Hay Fat Choi !

Spring Festival 4708:  Year of the Tiger

Image Credit: http://www.indianholiday.com/ – All Rights Reserved – Copyright 2010

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My mom made me take voice lessons for 5 years (bleh) but truly, once I heard k.d. lang sing…. it was hopeless to continue.

Enjoy the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver!


News, Public Health, Disease Prevention: World Cancer Day – Feb 4 2010 and a Very Special Cat

Today is World Cancer Day 2010 – Feb 4 2010

International Union Against Cancer (UICC) is the principal sponsor for World Cancer Day and is responsible for organizing the annual World Cancer Campaign and World Cancer Summit (held every two years).

The theme for the 2010 campaign is “Cancer can be prevented too”.  The public health message promotes practical lifestyle choices or modifications to lower the risk of  developing cancer, such as avoiding tobacco use, limiting alcohol consumption or exposure to the sun’s rays (or tanning booths), maintaining a healthy weight and take preventative measures against cancer-causing infections.

World Cancer Day began in 2006, and is held every year on Feb 4th.

Here are some additional facts about the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), from their “About” page:

In 1933, cancer researchers recognized the need to share knowledge and expertise globally and so founded the International Union Against Cancer (UICC). Since then, UICC has grown to embrace organizations engaged in all aspects of cancer prevention and control: voluntary cancer societies, research and treatment centres, public health authorities, patient support networks andadvocacy groups, and ministries of health “.

UICC works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), and has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. It offers corporate partners a unique opportunity to demonstrate social responsibility on a global scale. Every two years, UICC brings together key stakeholders in a World Cancer Summit. ”

Text Source: http://www.uicc.org/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

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It probably isn’t correct to say that any cat has a “mission” in life… other than eating, looking for tuna, seeking out sunny spots, sleeping, batting balls around or searching for insects to chew on.  But anyone who has ever lived with a feline knows how comforting a warm, purring cat can be in times of trouble or stress.

This month, the press has picked up on the story of one spotted cat from Providence, RI  that does seem to have a purpose and meaning in his behaviors, as documented by David Dosa, MD.

Dr. Dosa is an associate professor of medicine at Brown University and a gerontologist at Steere House Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Providence. Oscar is a therapy cat and lives at the facility on the third floor where there is a 41-bed unit for patients with dementia. The staff has noticed that, over time, Oscar has purposely chosen to enter rooms  of patients who are near death and will stay with them until they’ve passed on.

The doctor has written a book about the cat, entitled “Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of An Ordinary Cat” which was published by Hyperion Books on Feb 2 2010.  Earlier, an essay he wrote about the cat was published the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2007.

In the Medical Subject Headings List (MeSH) I found that the term “animal assisted therapy” was added to PubMed only recently (in 2010).  Link here to a group of recent citations found on Medline about therapeutic human-animal relationships.

Reporters from The Providence Journal visited with Dr. Dosa and Oscar recently, and the video link is here (Jan 31 2010). Some of the other news videos about this story are regrettably sensationalistic, even calling him the furry “angel of death” or other silly stuff.

And today, I learned that Oscar now has a Facebook page!


News, Medical & Technology Blogs: A Great Crop of “Best Medical Blogs”

MedGadget.com annually stages a “Best Medical Blog” award.  Their selections are always interesting to review for new – and well-established – writers.  This is the sixth year which the competition has been held.

This years’ nominees for the 2009 “Best Medical Blog” –  in seven different categories – represent many new bloggers, as well as some classic, veteran writers.  Each writer on the list represents a refreshing point of view in their own particular specialty, be it as a technologist, physician, research scientist, nurse, patient or librarian.

If you like, you can visit the site to review and vote for your choice(s) for the 2009 Medical Weblogs awards.  The online voting began Jan 27 and polls will remain open until Feb 14 2010.

Someday, maybe this blog will make it onto the list  8)

Public Health, Health Infrastructure, Humanitarian Aid: Health Crisis in Haiti

The recent major earthquake in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan 12 2010 has been a catastrophic and life-altering event for those living there.  The death toll climbed this week to an estimated 200,000 people.  For world leaders (and regular citizens), viewing the news reporting and photos from afar, the downtown area resembles a post-nuclear landscape.  Thankfully, many millions of people worldwide have donated monies toward the relief effort currently gearing up for their aid.

Watching the grim news from this poor Caribbean country unfold,  it seems unfortunately predictable as a sober demonstration of what happens when a government does (next to) nothing for a few days after a major catastrophe.  “No one” was in charge of managing the after-effects of this disaster.  Bodies piled up in the streets, people trapped under rubble – and whom might have lived had they been pulled away from the buildings which collapsed around them – were not rescued, roads are not cleared, the government was not visible. The infrastructure failed.

Injured people waited in pain and fear for help which only began to arrive on Friday, Jan 15th.   Those folks lucky enough to walk out of fallen buildings with non life-threatening injuries – an estimated 1.1 million people survived the Jan 12th quake in Port-Au-Prince – are now homeless.  Growing civil unrest is gaining hold.

This is the second wave of their public health emergency.

The public health infrastructure in Haiti was thin to begin with, but now with the city’s port severely damaged, roads blocked by fallen debris, scant fuel supplies, no functional communication networks and a lack of coordination among international aid agencies, newly-arrived emergency health personnel* and security forces ready to distribute aid are hard-pressed to get it quickly to those most in need.

An NPR reporter on the ground on Sunday Jan 17 was quoted as saying: “Money means little here right now.  People are dying from exposure, lack of drinking water and from injuries which are now infected… the stench of death and raw sewage is everywhere“.  Age-old scourges – communicable diseases (measles, meningitis, tetanus or malaria),  secondary infections (such as gangrene) from untreated traumatic injuries, dehydration, psychological shock, lack of food or medicine and rising criminal activities by a few – will be working against those survivors who have been literally camped out, sleeping on the ground for six nights. Click here to read an article dated Jan 17 2010 about a field hospital in Port-au-Prince, where Sanjay Gupta, physician and medical correspondent for CNN, stayed to treat patients after Belgian health personnel left due to security threats.

In most places, the infrastructure works (until it does not). So much about public health is essential yet unglamorous, addressing basic human needs: adequate and safe food, clean water, shelter from the elements, a means of earning a living, sewage and waste management, knowledge of basic healthcare practices, and the means to implement them, a chance for an education, safety from danger or interpersonal violence, peace of mind if possible.

There will be little of that (peace of mind, that is) on the island of Haiti in the near-term, but as one of of the many Haitian politicians interviewed on a news programs stated last week: “Maybe now we can rebuild a new Haiti”.

That would be a great public health opportunity for the citizens of this devastated country.

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* One charitable international volunteer agency, Medicins sans Frontiere, filed this report on Jan 19 2010 regarding the work of their medical staff(s) in Port-au-Prince.

** Link here to an assortment of non-profit international agencies coordinating aid to the population in Haiti, collected by Google.

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Addendum #1: On the morning of Jan 20 2010, a second earthquake of 6.1 magnitude struck near Port-au-Prince.  Read a brief report about this new quake from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Addendum #2: On Thurs Jan 21, this entry was added:  Dr. Robert Fuller, director of Emergency Medicine at UCHC, is currently in Haiti as a volunteer physician for International Medical Corps. Dr. Fuller spoke with with CNN reporter Wolf Blitzen on Jan 19 2010 about the medical rescue efforts in Port au Prince (link here for video).

News, Awards: VP and Dean Cato Laurencin honored at the White House

Besides serving as an educational administrator, Dr. Cato Laurencin, Dean of UConn School of Medicine and Vice President for Health Affairs, is also an orthopaedic surgeon, inventor and biomedical engineer, holds a PhD (from MIT) and an MD degree (from Harvard), and has 20 patents registered under his name.  He has been at UCHC since August 2008.  He even finds time to write a blog!

Dr. Laurencin was selected in 2009 as one of twenty-two recipients of the National Science Foundation‘s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, an award given to those who mentor students in science and mathematics (at any grade level).

Award winners were announced in July 2009 by the White House (press release – link here).

Dr. Laurencin and other honorees attended an awards ceremonies at the White House on Jan 6 2010, which was hosted by President Barack Obama.