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Crash Course on Using the Medical Library

If you’re a first year medical student, you may wonder how a medical and health sciences library differs from other academic libraries. While academic libraries as a whole work tirelessly to support students, faculty and staff during their time at a college or university, medical library professionals seek out services and resources that are specifically targeted towards medical and health professionals. 

It is not necessary for a medical librarian or other library professional to go through medical school or have a prior background in the medical or health sciences career field. Through constant training and professional development, medical library professionals build a foundational knowledge of common medical terms. The staff at Himmelfarb library frequently attend training sessions to broaden our scope of knowledge to better serve our patrons. Some of our staff members are also embedded in various classes and act as an extra source of support within that environment. With this knowledge we are able to tailor our services to the needs of our unique patrons. 

Medical research can be a daunting undertaking, but medical libraries provide access to print and electronic book, online databases and academic journals that are instrumental during the research, drafting and publishing process. Himmelfarb’s reference desk is available to answer any questions you may have. Through the use of our Ask A Librarian service, it’s possible to connect with someone in a matter of seconds. If you’re interested in learning more about the various ins-and-outs of scholarly publishing, our Scholarly Communications Committee recently completed a webinar series that touches on various publishing topics. The webinars are located under our Scholarly Publishing libguide. Once you’ve published a peer-reviewed article, we’re able to archive it within our institutional repository--the Health Science Research Commons, also known as the HSRC. With the use of Plumx metrics, it’s easy to track the level of engagement a published article receives. No matter what questions you may have, Himmelfarb is ready to assist. 

Medical libraries also strive to provide access to new medical technology. Himmelfarb has several pieces of equipment that can be checked out from the circulation desk. We also house a 3D printer that students, staff and faculty members can use to print various 3D models. This service is by request only. For more information, read the ‘3D Printing at Himmelfarb’ libguide. We’re constantly searching for new and innovative technology that can be used by our patrons and we hope to provide additional technological services in the near future. 

Medical librarianship is a dynamic career field that often changes to address the needs of medical and health science professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced library professionals to develop and maintain a virtual learning environment. Though many staff members of Himmelfarb library continue to work remotely, we’re available to answer any questions you may have. We’re thrilled to be an extra source of support during your time at the George Washington University and we look forward to working with you!

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