New Roles, Same Skills: Exploring Paths to Health Sciences Research Careers After Library School                          ...
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New Roles, Same Skills: Exploring Paths to Health Sciences Research Careers After Library School


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A poster exploring career paths to health services research positions for health librarians, using the Chaos Theory of Careers. Presented to the Canadian Health Libraries Association (CHLA) 2011 Conference in Calgary, Alberta, on May 28, 2011.

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New Roles, Same Skills: Exploring Paths to Health Sciences Research Careers After Library School

  1. 1. New Roles, Same Skills: Exploring Paths to Health Sciences Research Careers After Library School CHLA 2011 Canadian Health Libraries AssociationBACKGROUND: DANIEL HOOKER Researcher, eHealth Strategy Office, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia. Conference, May 26-30, 2011 Calgary, AlbertaAs health sciences research (HSR) activities expand in Canada, so do career opportunities DEVON GREYSON Information Specialist, Centre for Health Services & Policy Research, University of British Columbia.for health librarians and information professionals. Given that library and information ELISHEBA MUTURI Poster by Nelson Shenstudies (LIS) curricula do not typically address non-traditional career paths in-depth, how Program Analyst, Ministry of Health Services, Province of British Columbia. Graphics Designerdo health librarians end up in non-traditional HSR jobs? This poster explores a combination DOUGLAS SALZWEDEL Inspiration from 2008 NYC Subway Diagramof environmental factors, chance events, and individual interests that draw information Trials Search Coordinator, Cochrane Hypertension Group, University of British Columbia. by Vignelli Associatesprofessionals away from the traditional library setting and into HSR. MARY-DOUG WRIGHT Principal, Apex Information. THEME 1: Complexity and unpredictability reign in career choices. THEME 3: All career development timelines Initial goals CTC, though useful, did not account fully for career choices and factors METHODS: portrayed a complex blend of personal, • Mary-Doug: Academic librarian (sciences) professional and educational interests. Though using the theoretical frame to find parallel themes and A purposive sample of five information professionals with Master’s level Because career decision-making is so • Doug: Non-traditional librarian sometimes surprising differences in all the non-traditional paths, training in LIS (ML/IS), working in HSR in British Columbia, were selected to complex, it seems next to impossible to Chaos Theory of Careers did not account completely for all the collaborate on this poster. Three of the five participants work at the University of predict who ends up in non-traditional • Daniel: Digital collections details in our responses. British Columbia in some capacity, but the departments and positions vary widely positions. Most of the participants reported • Devon: Teen librarian in responsibility and scope. One participant works for the Government of British wanting to be in a traditional setting at • Elisheba: Health librarian; For example, Doug’s main goal upon beginning his ML/IS Columbia, and the final participant owns a consultancy that completes reviews and the start of their ML/IS programs. All now International development program was to work outside of a library setting. Though there environmental scans for health-related academic and government clients. report satisfaction with their positions. may have been elements of emergence in his decision-making, his story was one of self-recognition, goal setting and career To explore differences in career paths, five questions grounded in Chaos Theory All participants included at least one completely unique element in their achievement. Though it may remain difficult to predict what comes of Careers (CTC) were developed. Additionally, each participant created a decision making. Mary-Doug noted among the pros of her consultancy next in his career path, his development so far has somewhat career development timeline that included any the physical work environment and the ability to take her two dogs, the defied the chaotic nature of the other responses. elements of their lives that they considered to Sample Interview Questions “office assistants,” out on coffee breaks. Devon took no coursework in have had an impact on their career. health librarianship, and was training to become a youth services librarian. • Describe how you came to have your current position: How and We engaged in group thematic analysis and why did you obtain or create the discussion in order to discover themes within position? How (if at all) has it evolved over the time? CONCLUSIONS: our stories that might shed light on how librarians end up in non-traditional health • How did your MLIS program • Non-traditional roles for health librarians offer flexibility and prepare you or not prepare you research careers. By framing our stories within for your current job? THEME 2: independence. Balancing that flexibility is the duty to adapt CTC, the reports explore the applicability of MLIS programs required, but could do more. your skills so they are relevant to your organization, and to ML/IS training for research positions, and find ways to remain current and connected to the field of shed light on career development in health services research after ML/IS programs. All participants reported the health librarianship. Commonly Reported Skills importance of foundational LIS • Searching • Personal interests that are nurtured outside of education and skills. Although we work outside of • Synthesis professional roles can have influence over future career libraries, all of us use a librarian’s • Instruction development and job duties in flexible roles. LIS programs skill set heavily in the workplace. CHAOS THEORY OF CAREERS (CTC): • Applied Research activities can do more to make students aware of and consider non- traditional roles through curricular inclusion, mentorship That said, all respondents felt that A traditional approach to career development typically focuses on defining “key attributes” of the job • Writing and editing opportunities and co-op work. ML/IS training could have done seeker and matching those to compatible jobs. The Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC) challenges that • Interdisciplinary more to help build awareness of Collaboration • CTC captures some but not all of the factors that led each paradigm by assuming significant complexity and unpredictability, and takes a dynamic view of alternative career options. Though respondent to their current position. Chaos Theory elements individuals. Within CTC, the individual recognizes that career decision making is affected by many it may not be possible to identify such as “nonlinearity” and “emergence” were mentioned different and ever-changing influences, making long-term predictions impossible to make. which students will end up in non-traditional health careers, ML/IS often; other factors like ethical motivations or physical programs may provide support for such careers through: work environments were not accounted for explicitly in the Chaos Theory has six distinct key elements: theoretical framework. • Non-traditional or research related co-op work opportunities 1. Complexity. A range of influences holds sway over our lives, and understanding them may help • Mentorship from health researchers or other information Recurring Career Elements to explain choices and changes. professionals • Non-traditional careers provide flexibility, independence 2. Emergence. Emergence traces the influence of past events onto our current careers. • Coursework (either in health or not) builds transferrable skill set 3. Nonlinearity. Nonlinearity speaks to the reality that often seemingly trivial events can have • Sophisticated research training • Personal interests hold influence over specific areas of skill significant impacts on one’s career path. development 4. Unpredictability. Related to nonlinearity, unpredictability can be thought of as “chance events.” • Broadening beyond the traditional public/academic/special foci • Prior work experience (in and outside of libraries) affected future 5. Phase shifts. Phase shifts occur when the entire character of the system changes dramatically. opportunities 6. Attractors. Attractors are the constraints of the system, i.e., our values and limits. Bright J, Pryor RGL. The Chaos Theory of Careers: A User’s Guide. Career Development Quarterly. 2005;53(4):291-305.