Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The Informationist of the 21st Century
Things are coming together. And a session for UBC Pharmacy residents titled, Search skills for UBC pharmacy residents:Appraised tools, PubMed and even Google provided the perfect capstone. What I had originally anticipated as a teaching session turned out to be much more than I had expected, for the 2.5 long session gave me greater insight into the role of the information professional within the entire rubric of the field of health science and medicine.
Things finally make sense now. I must say I disagree with Pharmacists and Reference Librarians, a blog entry that had confounded me when I first encountered it a while back ago. It argues that the reference librarian is not far off from the pharmacist, for both have lost their relevance - the librarian to search engines while the pharmacist to the retail drug companies.
But that is a gross overstatement. If anything, working in two different hospital libraries as well as a health science research centre has given me the knowledge, experience, and skills to confidently say that the information professional plays a huge role. First, a project at CARMHA on primary care, revealed that pharmacists are on the often on the "front lines" of healthcare, for they are often the first to be consulted by patients with medical inquiries. Pharmacists are much more than mere pill counters. And second, introducing an academic to Google Scholar proved to be not only a humbling experience, but also a reminder of how far off we are to being a truly "information society."
With evidence-based medicine (EBM) ever so important in the health professions, pharmacists are needed and expected to have solid information searching and retrieval skills. This is where the librarian/information professional comes in. We not only find information and teach others (such as pharmacists) information literacy, but we also have a mandate to keep up to date with new findings and techniques on such new technologies. Hence, how can one not vehemently rebuke that pharmacy is "just a bit further along the road to annihilation than librarianship is"? It's perhaps appropriate for the informationist stand up and take a bow.