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Teaching, clinical librarian earns top honors

by Mary Helen Yarborough
Public Relations
Knowledge is power, especially in the treatment of patients with complicated conditions and diseases.
MUSC librarian Laura Cousineau, right, rounds with Dr. Ron Teufel (far left), pediatric hospitalist and attending physician, in the Children’s Hospital. Joining Cousineau and Teufel are residents, medical students and a pharmacist.

Maintaining a constant flow of medical research findings and making it readily available to clinicians for use on patients earned MUSC librarian Laura Cousineau, assistant director for Program Development and Resource Integration, the designation as the 2008 Academic Librarian of the Year by the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).
“It really says a lot about our program to be recognized by our peers, in this very competitive process, for what we are doing,” said Cousineau, who also is associate professor for the Department of Pediatrics, where she co-directs the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Education program for residents with Sandy Fowler, M.D., pediatrics associate professor.
Cousineau, Fowler, and EBM pediatric faculty teach residents the principles of EBM, and help clinicians think in terms of implications, complications and the best overall solution when treating a patient. It was Cousineau’s efforts in pediatrics that drew the most attention by fellow academic librarians.
While some of what is taught is didactic (lecture style), rounds provide a living lab, of sorts, where clinicians can apply the principles of evidence-based medicine. “Rounding with them,” Cousineau said, “helps make it real, more than just an academic exercise. With the nod from the attending, the residents or medical students and I can form a clinical question that is based on the patient we are seeing. Then we can find the best available evidence to answer the question. Sometimes we can do it in a couple of minutes. Sometimes we need to do a more thorough search after rounds.”
While not every patient’s condition would require database and periodical cross-referencing and research to address a particular medical question, Cousineau said rounding results in finding between two and eight patients out of every nine to 20 seen in Children’s Hospital whose treatment would benefit from EBM. “We analyze the evidence and talk about how well the evidence fits our patient,” she added. EBM librarians also round in the Institute of Psychiatry, and in the adult hospital and with the hospitalists.
Cousineau and the MUSC reference librarians choose information resources reporting on the latest and best medical treatments. She and her fellow librarians teach residents and students in all of the colleges how to use these resources. They also work to integrate these resources at point of care, and have created clinical portals for several units in both the children’s and the adult hospital.
In addition to her honors, for which she quickly credits others on her team, Cousineau also earned the award for the Outstanding Poster by a Professional Medical Educator, which was presented last spring in Nashville. Her poster presentation, “Designing Clinical Portals and WebCT: A Collaborative Initiative for Residency Education,” was peer-evaluated as part of the Medical Education Scholarship Award (MESA) program during the conference. Her co-authors were physicians Olivia Titus, David Annibale; and members of her staff, David McCabe and Sherman Paggi in library systems.
“This is the first year we have given poster awards so Laura is the first recipient of this particular award,” said Kathy O’Kane Kreutzer, SGEA Research in Medical Education section chair.

Cousineau’s award was formally announced in November during at the AAMC annual meeting. She will be recognized during the SGEA conference, April 2-4, in New Orleans.
Meanwhile, also at the AAMC meeting this fall, Cousineau began a one-year fellowship.
One of five National Library of Medicine/Association of Academic Health Sciences Leadership Fellows, Cousineau will be taking online classes on the hot topics of academic medicine and medical librarianship. She will make two trips to the University of California at Davis to work with her mentor, associate university librarian Gail Yokote, and then finish with a capstone course in Washington, D.C., in October.

Friday, Dec. 19, 2008

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