On Tuesday, December 5, The National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s most extensive biomedical library and developer of electronic information services, made a historic visit to the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus for a presentation and discussion on improving access to healthcare information within our rural and Native American communities.

“For myself, this was a rare opportunity to visit a member organization which works closely with the rural and tribal communities,” says Elizabeth Kiscaden, MLIS, AHIP, Associate Director of the NLM Greater Midwest Region at the University of Iowa. “The Medical School on the Duluth Campus commits to serving difficult-to-reach communities, and we want to partner with the faculty to support them in providing access to health information as a part of their projects.”

Dean Termuhlen and Elizabeth Kiscaden

Kiscaden opened with a presentation for faculty, staff, and students, demonstrating how to navigate resources within the American Indian and Alaska Native Health online portal, that covers a variety of topics from traditional healing to tobacco use and elder care. Kiscaden also emphasized that all of NLM’s resources are free for everyone to use – ranging from patient education handouts to children’s medical education books. In addition to the online portal, the presentation also introduced the library’s health and community database, MedlinePlus that offers interactive health check tutorials, healthcare directories and fact sheets about drugs, herbs, and supplements.

“This visit emphasizes how we as a campus have been engaging broadly to forward our mission,” said Regional Duluth Campus Dean, Paula Termuhlen, MD. “In addition to the excitement generated around our leadership of the open access Journal of Regional Medical Campuses, the NLM librarians have highlighted where we can be content experts in developing materials for special populations in line with our mission.”

Looking ahead, Kiscaden and her team have begun working with faculty on the Duluth Campus to develop preliminary ideas for health information projects, which could start as early as Spring 2018.

The University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus is nationally recognized as an emerging center of rural, American Indian and Indigenous health research. In 2017, U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Minnesota Medical School 3rd in the country for Rural Medicine on its Best Medical Schools rankings. Also, the campus possesses one of the highest American Indian faculty ratios at any U.S. medical school.