How Can I Become a Medical Librarian?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a medical librarian. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Archival Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Medical Librarian?

Medical librarians are librarians who specialize in working in medical libraries. They may work in clinics, medical schools, hospitals, insurance agencies or research centers. They maintain and organize medical texts that are pertinent to the needs of their employer. Like librarians, they assist people who need to locate specific information related to the medical field. Part of their duties include maintaining databases of the materials available. They need computer skills, strong communication skills and interest in healthcare and medicine.

Degree RequiredMaster's degree
Education Field of StudyLibrary and Information Science
Key responsibilitiesManage library databases,
Put together bibliographies and research topics as requested by users,
Assist users in finding information and recommend specific resources,
Acquire books, journals, and multimedia resources
Job Growth (2014-2024)2% for all librarians*
Median Salary (2017)$59,573**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

Education Requirements for Medical Librarians

In order to prepare to be a medical librarian, you'll first need to earn an undergraduate degree. You can major in any area; however, it would be beneficial if your bachelor's degree curriculum included courses in computer science, biology, medical terminology, medical sciences and management. After completing a 4-year degree program, you will also need to acquire a master's degree in library and information science (LIS) or a similar area, which can take an additional 1-2 years. For the best employment prospects, your master's degree program should be accredited by the American Library Association.

A library and information science master's degree program will include such courses as database systems, information handling, research methods, classification and cataloging, electronic publishing, information knowledge management, children's literature, organizational management, information technology and organizations, computers and culture, literature for young adults, and library and book history.

Since you'll want to specialize in medical librarianship, you will enroll in a special library curriculum, which offers courses such as medical informatics, resources for health sciences information, consumer health, or health sciences library. You may also become a member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals, which offers credentialing to medical librarians.

Job Duties

Depending upon your specific job title and where you work, your duties might include purchasing and cataloging journals, books and videos, creating distance learning programs and conducting research to locate specific information for doctors. You might also instruct medical students in utilizing special software programs and search engines to access information. Other duties may involve assisting patients in finding answers to their medical questions, and organizing and indexing web-based information. Some university research teams also include medical librarians, who provide information that is instrumental for the development of new products.

Career Options

With medical librarianship training, you will be qualified to obtain work as a collection development librarian within a university library, or you can provide services as a Web manager or library director in a university medical center. If you'd like to work in a hospital, you might apply for the position of reference librarian. Additionally, you could become a chief information officer, consumer health librarian or an information architect for various health or pharmaceutical organizations.

Salary and Job Outlook Info

According to Salary.com, the median salary for medical librarians was $59,573 as of 2017. Wages were variable, depending on factors such as experience, responsibility levels and job locations. Job growth is projected to be 2% for all librarians between 2014 to 2024 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a rate that is slower than average.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Archivists, curators and museum technicians have similarities between what they do and the work of medical librarians. Archivists process and catalogue historical records. The cataloguing of materials is comparable to the work that medical librarians do when they catalogue new materials they acquire. Curators focus on collecting artwork and historic pieces. This aspect of their work is like the work that medical librarians do, because medical librarians must also acquire materials for their library. Museum technicians may help restore items a museum displays. This is similar to the work of a medical librarian because librarians may also be responsible for repairing damaged texts. Archivists and curators need a master's degree; museum technicians need a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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