Five students in the Master of Science in Information Science program with a concentration in Health Informatics/Health Sciences Librarianship have been selected for the Medical Library Association Research Training Institute (MLA RTI) 2022-2023 cohort. The MLA RTI is partially funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and is an online education program that provides advanced research methods training and an intensive level of support for the participants to design, conduct and successfully disseminate a research project. The five UNT students join three graduate students from Emporia State University School of Library and Information Management and 26 practicing health sciences librarians to form the cohort.
Dr. Ana Cleveland, Regents Professor, Sarah Law Kennerly Endowed Professor and Director of the Health Informatics Program serves as an academic liaison and works with the leadership team in the design, delivery and assessment of the online program. Dr. Jodi Philbrick, Principal Lecturer is a co-lead faculty for the institute; and UNT alumna Karen Gutzman (MLS '12), Head of Research Assessment and Communications at The Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center at Northwestern University is the digital dissemination coordinator and an instructor. Susan Lessick, Distinguished Librarian Emerita, University of California, Irvine, is the project director of the MLA Research Training Institute.
"We are pleased to have another group of students participating in the MLA’s Research Training Institute (RTI) supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services," said Ana Cleveland. "The students have an extraordinary opportunity to gain research skills, engage in a research project, and become part of a community of future researchers."
The five UNT MS-IS Health Informatics students selected as MLA RTI fellows are:
Samira Didehbani has been a registered nurse for nine years. She currently works at the Texas Health Resources Dallas Presbyterian Hospital in the medical intensive care unit. Some of her career goals include supporting clinicians in their decision making via evidence-based practice and conducting research using solely the electronic health records.
"I'm excited to be a part of the 2022 RTI group because I can explore a research question of my liking with the support and guidance of my university faculty and MLA. How lucky am I?" said Didehbani.
Drew Johnson is a Certified Health Educator. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas Woman’s University in 2021 with her Bachelor of Science degree in Health. There, she conducted a needs assessment aimed at identifying trends in the access and use of culturally competent maternal healthcare resources. Currently, she works in pharmaceutical drug safety to promote accurate data insights and monitoring for adverse events, and as a learning systems manager to promote clinician education and compliance maintenance support. At the RTI, Drew is interested in exploring inequalities in the process of gathering and analyzing health information for ethnic minorities.
"The Research Training Institute has helped me to understand the academic research process, learn more about the health informatics community, and broaden my industry scope through collaborations with my peers," said Johnson.
Laurie Najjar earned a B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Management, and has a varied background, having worked as an instructional designer, marketing manager, editor, and researcher. Laurie plans to become a reference or research librarian.
"To be effective in conducting searches for information clients, I'll need the skills required to understand and evaluate the studies I encounter," said Najjar. "RTI has been an effective "research boot camp" that builds those solid skills. The curriculum is thorough yet efficient and the faculty are knowledgeable, available, and supportive."
Najjar currently works at the Austin Public Library, providing circulation and reference support, as well as promoting civic engagement. Laurie's research interests include information literacy, reference instruction, patient education, and behavioral interventions.
Ebony Peterson has a graduate certificate from UNT in Archival Management. Before entering the field of Library Science, she obtained both a B.A. and M.A. in history and further pursued a career in teaching both high school and collegiate students. She plans on doing research addressing the accessibility issues that users with learning disabilities face when researching library databases, with a particular focus on students with dyslexia.
"The RTI fellow program has given me the opportunity to fill gaps in my research skills that are needed to be a successful student and ultimately a dynamic information specialist," said Peterson. "My experience as an RTI fellow has been fulfilling and I am excited about what is to come as we continue this journey. We are a community striving to contribute to the body of knowledge in medical research and it has been nothing less than amazing."
Ciara Seals holds a B.S. in Anthropology with a concentration in health and medicine from Baylor University and works in public health and epidemiology, focusing on data management. Ciara has continually witnessed the undeniable value of the information professional’s role in trend identification, collection, and retrieval. Ciara’s background has shown her the importance of community outreach via information services. She is exploring career options in clinical research and is highly interested in informatics relating to database management and user interface in clinical trials.
"I applied to this research program to enhance my research skills," said Seals. "This opportunity is allowing me to learn from experienced researchers and connect with a variety of talented individuals. I am excited to see all that I will be able to accomplish."