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Celebrating Libraries Week

The Royal Society of Medicine is home to one of the largest and most up-to-date medical libraries in Europe.

Our extraordinary archive collection includes some of the rarest and oldest medical texts in existence, and records dating back to our foundation in 1805 offer a unique insight into the lives of medical professionals of the past.

As well as hosting a historic collection of treasures, the RSM Library is an essential resource used every day by healthcare professionals across the spectrum of specialties. While our digital library provides the most up-to-date e-books, e-journals, and medical databases to members all around the world, our peaceful Library spaces in central London include a range of facilities with expert Information Specialists on hand to aid both work and study.

This week is #LibrariesWeek, an annual showcase and celebration of the best that libraries have to offer. To mark the week, we’re sharing stories from some of the healthcare professionals and students regularly benefitting from the learning resources on offer at the RSM Library.

Dr C. Andrew Combs MD, PhD. Pediatrix Medical Group (USA)

“An extremely valuable benefit of being an Overseas Fellow of RSM is access to the extensive online Digital Library resources.

“I practice at a community hospital that closed its small physical library several years ago and no longer employs a librarian or subscribes to any journals. Though I have subscriptions to a handful of specialty journals through my professional organization memberships, my clinical needs and research needs often require the ability to read material from diverse specialties and from international journals in my own speciality. 

“The RSM library gives me online access to a vast array of journals and books, 24 hrs per day, seven days per week. Access is offered via ClinicalKey, Browzine, OpenAthens, and other channels.

“The librarians are available via e-mail to help with individual questions and periodically offer webinars to train budding researchers (and seasoned hacks like myself) on how to navigate online search services and effectively use the Digital Library services.

“This benefit alone is well worth the cost of my annual Overseas Fellowship dues.”

Miss Carolina Venda Nova, second year PhD student at University College London, Eastman Dental Institute

“Systematic Reviews are the groundwork for many research projects, and they are important pieces of scientific research that can guide and inform not only future research works but also clinical practice. It is then of utmost importance that the searches are conducted appropriately to avoid leaving out relevant studies which could easily be missed due to a poorly designed search strategy.

“At the start of my project I had performed basic literature searches, but I had not had the chance of designing a search for different databases and not in a comprehensive way that a Systematic Review requires.

“I sat down together with the Information Specialist at the RSM Library to discuss my Systematic Review, its aims and objectives and we started to think about how to best design the search strategy.

“Due to her search skills and expertise, it was a very straightforward and quick process. Once she had finished searching the databases and she found the relevant references, I was sent comprehensive documents with very clear instructions on how to reproduce it. The Specialist I worked with was available on the phone and by email and that was of great help.

“Having been through the process I strongly believe that authors should consider consulting an Information Specialist. I would not have been able to produce a robust study if it were not for the Information Specialist at the RSM library.”

Mr. Charles A. Neal, MPH, PA-R

“The literature search services provided by RSM library staff helped me form a solid foundation for my doctoral special project by providing me with high-quality peer-reviewed articles on the development of the orthopaedic physician associate profession.

“Having that solid foundation of a literature search helped give me the confidence that I was on the right track moving forward with writing my special project.

“Additionally, the RSM library workshops have taught me the fundamental skills in how to conduct my literature search. I have taken three workshops that the RSM library offers; Intro to lit search, advanced lit search, and intro to critical appraisal. I use the search and critical appraisal techniques taught in those workshops every week for my doctoral school work.”

Ruth Baker, Medical Herbalist, MNIMH

“Most of my patients are also taking medicine prescribed by their GP or Consultant. It is essential for Medical Herbalists to ensure that the medicine they prescribe does not interact with pharmaceutical medicine.

“When one of my patients recently asked if I would find a herbal alternative to anti-coagulants, I worked with Beata Coffey, Information Specialist at the RSM Library to carry out the research required.

“Beata helped me design the research questions and conducted the search in three databases (Medline, Embase, and AMED) to identify research and clinical articles published in the last ten years. The total search took around 23 hours and would have taken me a great deal longer - and I probably wouldn’t have found the results that she did.

 “Most of the papers were available via the RSM library, and I examined these and found the most relevant. I then wrote a report summarising the findings, which my patient gave to his Cardiologist. We obtained his consent for me to prescribe herbal medicine, and my patient is very happy with his prescription.

“I could not have done this without the help of the research department. I remember my patient saying to me “we have to show him we’ve done our homework”! I am very grateful to Beata who did the homework for us, and generously took time to explain her findings to me.”

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