Making Things Happen: An Exciting New Partnership Between CMHSL and PHS

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We are thrilled with our new partnership with the library and hope our collaborative efforts address needs of our colleagues across the health system for more information about basic statistics and introductory research questions.  Research is a team science and our goal is to connect researchers with the expertise they need! – Ruth Gaare Bernheim

Gretchen Arnold, MLS, Director of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library (CMHSL), and Ruth Gaare Bernheim, JD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences (PHS), have long recognized that the Library, with its strong service model, visibility, and accessibility, could be a central point in the Health System for finding needed research expertise.  In the fall of 2013 their vision became reality when Gaare Bernheim approached Arnold and generously offered to fund the staffing of a pilot consultation service for one year.  Soon after a PHS/CMHSL working group began meeting to ensure that the partnership would meet shared goals.  According to Arnold, “The Library was thrilled to provide the space and equipment and we were especially delighted to work with statistical consultants who share our service goals.  It’s a perfect team and shows how creative minds can make things happen.”  

The new service is called Public Heath Sciences @ the Library and it is now open for business on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons between noon and 4pm on the first floor of the Library.

Aaron Pannone and Xinqun Wang

Aaron Pannone and Xinqun Wang

I sat down recently to discuss the service with Aaron Pannone, PhD, and Xin Qun Wang, M.S., Senior Biostatistician, the two members of PHS who are providing their expertise.

What types of research support do you offer?

Aaron:We are here to answer introductory questions about research, data, and statistics.  Folks come to us with questions such as:

  • What sample size would I need to use?
  • What is a research question?
  • How can I collect and store this data effectively?
  • How design or conduct a chart review?

Who is eligible for the service and how do they contact you?

Aaron:  Medical and Nursing school faculty, residence and fellows, students associated with the Health System, lab personnel, and other Health System staff. They can drop by here on the first floor of the library, Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 4pm, or they can go to the Bioconnector website where there is a link to a form.

How is this service at the library different or the same as what you do back at PHS?

Aaron:  In numerous courses I teach research skills to masters students and undergrads in a classroom setting, and I also mentor masters students who are doing their individual projects, so the library consultation focuses on similar questions, and the same skills, just in a different teaching setting.

Xinqun: I agree.  Not much difference except that we are giving advice rather than formal teaching.  In the library we offer free advice intended to jump-start a research project or connect researchers and students to others who can provide help with their questions.

Any surprises so far?

Aaron: No surprises and it’s all been interesting to meet researchers. We’ve seen students, faculty, house staff, and other staff.  We have a lot of experience in this area so, so far, it’s all been anticipated.

Xinqun: I was a bit surprised at how many students from the SOM have been approaching us. The nature of my job is not student focused, but now I have the opportunity to serve them and I have observed so much excitement about the research process.  It is very satisfying to work with students and others who are beginning research projects and professional careers.

Final thoughts?

Aaron: We are excited to be able to meet people in the library.  It’s been fascinating to get a glimpse of all the great research that is going on in the health system.

Xinqun: I agree.  This has been a very exciting opportunity and we look forward to meeting more Health System colleagues embarking on a research project.

As for future plans, there are a lot of ideas being tossed around.  Everyone agrees that workshops will likely be developed around the types of questions the service generates, and there is talk about developing online “Learning Spots” or tutorials.  Arnold and Gaare Bernheim agree that what you see now is just the beginning of a great partnership.


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