Monday, August 22, 2011

Why I Chose to Be a Medical Librarian

A lot of people who know me (or don't, for that matter) cock their eyebrow when I tell them I'm a medical librarian. I never knew what I would do in high school and during college I had chosen an art marketing degree. A year or so after graduating I decided to become a librarian. I talked about it with Ivan and it seemed to be a natural fit. I love doing research, find it very easy to find information (obscure or not), and know how to format manuscripts. What was the biggest shock about becoming a librarian? I had to have a master of library science degree. What?!?! I obtained my degree after a year and a half took a job at a hospital. Not my environment, but thankfully I'm back in academics and I LOVE it.
People always seem to think that librarians are librarians because they love reading books. Such a false statement. As a librarian I never get to sit around and read books. When I do read it's to comb through information and condense it for others or to beef up my knowledge on a certain topic...and hardly ever does it involve a book. Don't get me wrong, I do love reading and own many books, but it has nothing to do with my profession. Research and technology are usually what's involved with being a librarian. It is a little different for public librarians and media specialists, but they still don't get to sit around and read.
Over the past few years, I have helped patients and families find information, did a few literature searches and obtained articles as research for a book a physician was writing, got information during a couple of surgeries while they were in progress, helped students find information, write, and format papers, retrieved literature for lawsuits (on both sides of the coin), and much more. Rewarding and fun...who could ask for more?
Why medicine instead of academic, school, or public libraries? I chose to go into medical libraries because of my friend Jenny. She was diagnosed with cancer and I hated that I couldn't just cure her. Things happen for a reason, but it doesn't mean you have to like or understand it, unfortunately. I know I can never practice medicine; not as a doctor, nurse, technician, or anything else. I just don't deal well with any of that or with people who won't listen to what will help them. I wanted to do something to help those in medicine, though. The ones who would become doctors or nurses. I had already chosen to become a librarian, but had no focus. Why not medicine?
Surprisingly, I found the coursework easy and had the highest GPA in my classes (especially medical research, in which I was the only librarian and everyone else was a nurse). This boosted my confidence in my choice and I knew I was on the right path. Nurses may not be good at research, but I was. I am definitely not good at any part of nursing, and nurses are, but I can research anything and find what is needed to answer a question. I knew that this was the right choice for me and I hope that I have helped plenty of people during my time as a medical librarian.
Just in case you're wondering I did not waste my undergrad degree. My main classes during that time were marketing, graphic design, photography, and weaving. I use marketing and graphic design constantly for my job and, occasionally, I use photography. I focused on technology in libraries while getting my masters and use that information, too. So, while my undergrad may not be what I have a job in, I do use knowledge from it every day to make my job easier and more satisfying. Who would have thought that an art marketing degree would fit so well with being a medical librarian.

No comments: