Assessing the Impact of a Medical Librarian on Identification of Valid and Actionable Practice Gaps for a Continuing Medical Education Committee


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Abstract

Introduction:Identifying educational needs related to professional practice gaps can be a complex process for continuing medical education (CME) committees and for physicians who submit activity applications. Medical librarians possess unique skills that may be useful for identifying practice gaps relevant to CME committees. We assessed this assumption by assessing a medical librarian's contributions to practice gap identification for the Marshfield Clinic's CME Committee.Methods:We reviewed all locally relevant, locally actionable practice gaps identified annually by various stakeholders and presented to our CME Committee from 2010 to 2013. Total numbers of practice gaps identified, total categorized as actionable, and numbers of subsequent activities resulting from these gaps were calculated for each year. Medical librarian totals were compared to those of other CME committee stakeholders to determine the relative contribution.Results:The medical librarian identified unique, actionable published practice gaps that directly contributed to CME activity planning. For each study year, contributions by the medical librarian grew, from 0 of 27 actionable gaps validated by CME Committee in 2010 to 49 of 108 (45.4%) in 2013. With the librarian's assistance, the number of valid practice gaps submitted between 2010 and 2013 by stakeholders climbed from 23 for 155 activities (14.8%) to 133 for 157 activities (84.7%).Conclusion:Medical librarians can provide a valuable service to CME committees by identifying valid professional practice gaps that inform decisions about educational activities aimed at improving clinical practice. Medical librarians bring into deliberations unique information, including national health policy priorities, practice gaps found in the literature, and point-of-care search engine statistics.

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