As part of the Associate Fellowship curriculum, we had an “Administrator Views & Discussion” session with four staff who are Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs of two divisions within the National Library of Medicine. This was an opportunity to for us to ask questions about management issues, and to have an open conversation about their experiences. I really enjoyed this session and wanted to share some of the advice we received.
On motivating your employees:
- Set expectations for job performance and provide additional training when needed. Be consistent as a manager and hold all employees to the same standard.
- Communication is important. Let employees tell you what they need to be successful in their job.
- Work can become repetitive. Managers need to make sure their employees have variety in their work to keep it engaging (special projects, working groups, etc.).
- Don’t be afraid to push, even if staff are uncomfortable with changes. All jobs will change in some way over time (e.g. implementing automation tools).
- Encourage employees to experiment and not be afraid of failure.
- Know what is going on in other areas of an employee’s life that can take away their enthusiasm from work (personal health, family issues, etc.). Be understanding of those temporary situations that prevent them from giving 100% to their work.
On teaching staff to be problem-solvers:
- Teach employees to not dump all the problems on their supervisors. First, have them define the problem, then list several solutions. Finally, go to supervisor with their recommended solution.
- Learn how to ask good questions to help your staff work through a problem and solve it themselves. Let them own their solution. Be okay with different approaches. Your way is not the only right way.
On managing your friends & peers:
- Be prepared for a grieving process when you are promoted into a position where you are managing your friends/peers. Sometimes these friendships will continue, sometimes they will not.
- Don’t form any cliques.
- Be aware that people are looking at you more closely (actions, behaviors, clothing, etc.).
On developing career goals:
- Throw away those 2-year or 5-year career goals! (All four presenters agreed with this statement).
- Go where your heart/head/interests take you. Be open to new opportunities.
- It’s more important to know your motivation factor. What excites you about working?
- (As a manager, you still need goals for you and your employees to work towards in accomplishing the organization’s mission. But personal long-term career goals, not so much).
What are some good tips that you have received about working in management?
Do you have a long-term career plan? Why or why not?
I received an exciting piece of mail last week. My certificate for the Consumer Health Information Specialization has arrived! I’ll be adding that to my resume.
The goals of the CHIS program are to
- improve health information services for consumers,
- create partners in the delivery of consumer health information, and
- increase access to consumer health information courses.
Participants include medical librarians, public librarians, and allied health professionals. For more information, visit the MLA website. In order to receive the Level II specialization, I had to earn 24 credits. I completed most of my courses online through the Southeastern/Atlantic Region of the National Networks of Library of Medicine. Check out their schedule of upcoming courses here! You can also take in-person and online classes from other Regional Medical Libraries, or at MLA conferences and chapter meetings.
Check out this post on the NLM History of Medicine Division Blog, Circulating Now:
This gallery takes a look at African American staff members at the National Library of Medicine between 1948 and 1977. These skilled librarians were responsible for helping the library through its transition from the Army Medical Library to the National Library of Medicine and for serving the public through the many organizational and technological changes…
Visit A Look at Librarians for more cool pics!
It’s been three months since I started the Associate Fellowship. I am one-fourth of the way finished. Oh my, time is flying by! The fellowship is going very well. I just wanted to give a little update on what I have been up to lately.
- I had planned to attend the Georgetown University Mini-Med School. However, due to some schedule conflicts I had to drop out before it started. GU charges a fee for this course, and I want to make sure that I can get my money’s worth and attend every session. I will try again for the spring.
- October 13-15, I attended the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of MLA Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.
- I enrolled in a consumer health course, “Combatting Information Fatigue: Health Information Resources for Veterans”. However, I lost track of my dates and the course closed before I could finish all the assignments. I’m very disappointed in myself about that. I needed those credits to apply for the Level II Consumer Health Information Specialization. I guess I could go ahead and apply for Level I, since I do have enough credits for that. But I think I’m only one credit shy of Level II!
- November 17-20, I attended the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium in Washington, DC. This was a very interesting experience, I will have to write a separate post on what I learned.
- We had a field trip to the spend time with the Southeastern Atlantic Regional Medical Library staff at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library (University of Maryland, Baltimore). It was interesting learning about the unique responsibilities and challenges of being a librarian in a Regional Medical Library (RML).
- We had a field trip to the Veterans Administration Central Office, and learned about the network of VA Libraries across the country.
- We had curriculum about the History of Medicine Division, National Network Office, Specialized Information Services, National Information Center on Health Services Research and other NLM divisions!
- We received training on PubMed and TOXNET.
Also, I have been working on my fall projects!
- Project#1: Creating a video tutorial on how to use Semantic MEDLINE. Semantic MEDLINE is a web application that summarizes citations from a PubMed search, extracts predications from the titles/abstracts, and presents the predications in a graph format. It helps in managing PubMed search results, and in selecting which articles to read. I chose this project because I am interested in instruction and wanted more experience creating online tutorials.
- Project#2: Developing pre-formulated PubMed searches for selected disaster health topic pages. The Disaster Informational Management Research Center maintains a website with health information related to various types of disasters. They include links to pre-formulated database searches. I chose this project because I wanted more experience with using PubMed and developing search strategies.
That’s all for now — I’ll try to update you again much sooner than three months!
Well the fellowship has come to a pause due to the government shutdown. We came in for a couple of hours this morning, and then we were sent home.
In the meantime, I will be making a firm decision on which fall projects I want to complete. I had hoped to meet with my preceptor (what they call our mentors for the fellowship) today to receive some advice. I feel like I should go ahead and make the decision though, so that I can be ready to get started when things return to normal. I decided to choose two projects. Right now I have a “top four”, and need to figure out which two I am most interested in. All five Associates have to choose from a list of proposed projects that are submitted by the various divisions/units. Fortunately, there is such a wide of range of interests among the Associates this year, and a good variety of the types of projects possible, that there was very little overlap in project selection. So we won’t have to
fight negotiate with each other for projects. I can’t discuss what my potential projects are at this time though…
Another thing I may do with my time off is write more blog posts. Great idea, right? I would like to write some type of “intro to NLM” post because I think many non-librarians (and especially those not involved in health care) don’t have a full understanding of everything that NLM does. I know I didn’t. I’m still learning, and I know I can’t cover it all in one post. There is so much more than meets the eye with this library, and I wish more of the general public knew what a gem this institute is to our country (and to the world really). Other topics will probably relate to interesting information I have gleaned from courses, or meetings.
Today starts the beginning of National Medical Librarians Month. The theme this year is “Saving You Time So You Can Save Lives”. Related to this theme is an interesting post, “Should Your Doctor Consult the Librarian?” which discusses an article by Julia Sollenberger that examines the evolving role and value of librarians in health care.
Today also marks the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace. See healthcare.gov for more information on signing up for insurance. Resources for librarians who will be assisting patrons in using the Health Insurance Marketplace can be found on the ALA website.
Well that’s all I have to share for now. :)
I just completed my fourth week of the fellowship and the month is just about over. Boy do they keep us busy! I know I have been neglecting you all, but honestly, when I get home, my brain is tired and I haven’t felt like writing. However, I promise to (try) and do better. I don’t want my blog to get dusty.
So you may be wondering, just what have we been doing that would make me so tired? Weeelllll……
- We had a few orientation sessions to learn what would be expected of us
- We posed for a group picture and headshots
- We attended three welcome receptions at NLM, and one black-tie gala in DC
- We attended a 1.5 day Board of Regents meeting
- We attended a library operations All Staff Meeting
- We’ve had ten meetings with senior staff members–deputy director, associate directors, deputy associate directors, etc. NLM has a lot of senior staff — I think there are still some more meetings to come.
- We went on a half-day field trip to the NIH Library.
- We started curriculum units. So far we have had collection development, collection access, and production of NCBI literature databases. The curriculum units will continue through January. Next week we will have organization of information.
- In addition to curriculum, we will have 1-2 small fall projects to complete. The different divisions/units in NLM have submitted proposals and we can choose from the list. We received the list this week, and we hope to make our choices by next Friday.
See what I mean?
There have been some adjustments to get used to. For one thing I have a much longer commute now. My previous job is ten minutes from where I live. The NLM is a little farther (about 40-45 minutes with no traffic). However, since the fellowship is only a year, and I don’t know where I will be employed next, I chose not to move closer. I didn’t feel like going through an apartment hunt for something short-term. I’m regretting that decision now. Since I’m commuting during rush hour, it takes me at least an hour each way. I’ve never had to drive that far on a regular basis…I’m spending ten hours a week in my car…but I try not to think about that too much. This kind of commute is the norm for a lot of people in the DC/MD/VA area anyway, I’ve just been lucky up until now to not have to experience it.
Another adjustment is wardrobe. My previous job I primarily wore jeans & t-shirts ( and I love to dress casual). Now, I have to wear professional attire. Which means dressier pants (or skirts) with blouses and blazers or cardigans. Oh, and dressier shoes. So, I’ve had to do some shopping…and I’m still adding to the wardrobe. It requires a little more thought when picking out my clothes for each day. On the plus side, I am slowly finding a better sense of style.
However, overall, the positives of the fellowship experience far outweigh those small inconveniences.
So that’s all for right now. I hope to be able to write a few more posts this weekend to further reflect on some of my experiences so far. I’m very excited to be at the NLM, and I’m looking forward to all that is to come!