Meet Rebecca Carlson

May 28, 2020

Health Sciences Library librarian and liaison to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Rebecca CarlsonLike many librarians in the clinical, academic and research engagement department of the Health Sciences Library, I have clinical responsibilities at the UNC Medical Center, and I’m involved in research, education and clinical practice. I’m the liaison to the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and to the department of surgery in the School of Medicine. I’m also one of the HSL liaisons to the office for Interprofessional Education and Practice, which is located here in the library.

We all work hard to stay relevant for our users and stay on the cutting edge in terms of tools and resources. I am part of a team exploring artificial intelligence tools in comprehensive searching, another exploring new methods of clinical librarian engagement and a third that is expanding our support of global health initiatives.

What I’ve learned in my years as a health sciences librarian has made me passionate about reducing health disparities and increasing women’s access to quality care. Once I saw data about how socioeconomic status, race and other factors impact health care, I wanted to find ways to be part of improving these disparities. I’ve helped faculty with grant proposals in this area, I’ve collaborated on several systematic reviews about health disparities and equitable health care, and I continue to look for other ways to contribute.

I attend two weekly case conferences for the department of surgery, one for upper gastrointestinal (GI) surgery and one for colorectal surgery. In these meetings, the medical team discusses upcoming cases for the week and any issues that have arisen with patients in the hospital or complications from procedures. I’m there if they have questions about current evidence or rare diagnoses or a combination of treatments and medications.

Rebecca Carlson in a meeting

Carlson (second from right) participates in a case conference at the department of gastrointestinal surgery with (left to right) surgery resident Lawrence “Jack” Wood, nurse Lisa Prestia and clinical GI surgery fellow Ivy Haskins.

Another way I help is by supporting residents. As the attendees ask them questions about the cases they’re presenting, uncertainties might come up. I can provide information in the moment. I also block time immediately after the conference to conduct literature searches and send that information back to the team as quickly as possible.

“Having Rebecca attend the GI surgery weekly case conferences is a privilege. This is a time when we gather to review the details of our patients and their illnesses, and to discuss the thought process behind our operative plans. This process, paramount to clinical care and surgical education, results in dialogue involving students, residents and faculty, often inspiring important questions. Rebecca helps to support our evidence-based practices and streamlines the incorporation of research into these lively discussions, resulting in a well-rounded educational experience.”

Nicole Chaumont, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery

As academic librarians, we work regularly with graduate research assistants in the HSL from a variety of UNC-Chapel Hill schools, including the School of Information and Library Science and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. We consult with them, provide advice and offer recommendations about research and searches. In my position, I also work closely with students and fellows at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and with residents and fellows in the department of surgery. For example, across the past year I have collaborated with Nick Nelson, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Pharmacy, on two scoping reviews relating to pharmacy education research.

rebecca carlson speaking with colleague

Carlson (left) confers with Shannon Delaney, a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science and a graduate research assistant at the HSL.

My primary role is as liaison to the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. I collaborate with faculty to design and provide curriculum-integrated instruction; participate in the scholarship of teaching and learning; and provide research and scholarly communication consultations, expert literature searches and other services in support of teaching, clinical care and research. One of my most important roles with the School of Pharmacy is to contribute to its top-ranked Pharm.D. program. I sit on the curriculum and assessment committee; teach lectures on literature searching, evidence-based practice and drug information; and teach seminars for faculty.

rebecca carlson types on laptop

During her office hours at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Carlson (right) shares search techniques with Pharm.D. student Yimo Wang.

The Health Sciences Library and the pharmacy librarian are invaluable partners to the work of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Rebecca provides expert information services to faculty, staff and students; supports the curriculum through her teaching and participation on the Curriculum and Assessment Committee; and partners on research for continued educational innovation.” 

Wendy Cox, Pharm.D., Associate Dean for Professional Education, Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Health sciences librarians truly are partners. We contribute expertise to health research, education and clinical practice, and we work each day to demonstrate our value and impact. For instance, we partner with researchers in ways that often lead to co-authorship on publications. In spring 2019, I worked with faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill and with other institutions across the country to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update the HPV clinical practice guideline. My role was to develop comprehensive search strategies that would find everything that had been published since the previous guideline and then help streamline the screening of that literature. There were around 10,000 publications since the last update. Since they couldn’t read everything in five months, I used automation tools to prioritize citations for them to review, helping them use their team’s time most effectively.

portrait of rebecca carlson and colleagues

Carlson (second from left) with colleagues from the HSL’s clinical librarian team: (left to right) Karen Grigg, Sarah Wright, Jamie Conklin, Elizabeth Moreton

I think it’s important to make visible the many ways that health sciences librarians can contribute to the outcomes of research, education and clinical practice at the University of North Carolina and beyond.

Photos by Melanie Busbee, Melanie Busbee Photo

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