1. Wright, Lonnie MSLS
  2. Brockopp, Dorothy PhD, MSN, RN, FAAN

Article Content

One objective of the National Institutes of Health strategic plan is to "communicate and transfer research results into clinical, public health, and human service practice."1 In addition, the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet Recognition Program(R) cites the importance of nurses' involvement in research activities and requires access to knowledge-based information for Magnet(R) designation. As a result, approximately 95% of Magnet-designated hospitals have access to a librarian.2


Librarians are experts in those areas that support the transfer of research findings into practice as well as providing access to knowledge-based information.3 They are qualified to teach healthcare professionals how to search the literature, access online services, and evaluate available evidence for methodological rigor.4


Nurse leaders seeking Magnet designation or improvements in patient care are actively involved in developing environments that support research activities. The literature suggests that benefits of a research-friendly environment (RFE) include the provision of optimal patient care, a nursing staff that uses the literature to address clinical issues, and a work environment that promotes continuous learning.5 In addition, when nursing and allied health staff are empowered to suggest clinical questions for exploration and receive support to address their questions through conducting research, increased satisfaction with their practice frequently occurs.2 Librarians can play an important role in developing and maintaining that environment.


Role of the Clinical Librarian

In general, librarian's support clinical teaching and research assist caregivers to develop practice guidelines and ensure that current literature is available (sample job description, Supplemental digital content 1, Clinical librarians in healthcare settings are uniquely trained for their positions and are typically master's degree prepared.5 They provide a welcoming environment within library services to support healthcare professionals who may not have recent experience working with evidence-based literature or databases or who are returning to school for advanced education.


Best practices for a clinical librarian in a RFE include: 1) establishing a comprehensive but understandable orientation message for new employees introducing library resources and the pathway for clinical staff to access those resources, 2) creating an environment that enables practitioners working 24/7 to have access to library services including electronic databases, 3) providing individual support for practicing clinicians and those in educational programs to explore specific subjects for academic projects, and 4) creating an inclusive training program for clinical providers and other employees to search databases and access current information relevant to support improvements in practice or update standards of care.


At Baptist Health Lexington, a 3-time Magnet(R)-designated acute care community hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, the clinical librarian has played a major role in developing an environment that supports and welcomes research activities. The librarian has been an active member of the Nursing and Allied Health Research Council since its inception. He provides feedback and expertise to the members as potential research initiatives are reviewed for approval. Magnet reviewers have commented on the value of this resource in the hospital's nursing research program, which was recognized as an exemplar in the 3rd designation cycle.


Changing Practice

One of the goals for this RFE is to improve clinical practice by identifying clinical problems, conducting studies, and publishing findings. In cooperation with research consultants, the librarian has supported the conduct of approximately 40 projects annually over a 10-year period and publication of 46 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals over a 6-year period. Examples of recent publications are included in Table 1.

Table 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowTable 1 Examples of Articles Published With Librarian Support in a Research-Friendly Environment

Implications for Nursing Leaders

Giving healthcare professionals access to a librarian may support nurse leaders' desire for Magnet designation as well as their interest in improving patient care. A librarian can engage new employees, seasoned professionals, and employees returning to school in the journey toward evidence-based practice. Job satisfaction for nurses, confidence in the care healthcare professionals provide and improvements in patient care may result from providing access to a librarian.




1. Holst R, Funk CJ, Adams HS, et al. Vital pathways for hospital librarians: present and future roles. J Med Libr Assoc. 2009;97(4):285-292. [Context Link]


2. Funk CJ. Magnet Organizations and Hospital Libraries [Report Prepared for the Medical Library Association Board of Directors]. Chicago, IL: Medical Library Association; 2008. [Context Link]


3. Klem ML, Weiss PM. Evidence-based resources and the role of librarians in developing evidence-based practice curricula. J Prof Nurs. 2005;21(6):380-387. [Context Link]


4. McClelland N, Albert N. Creating a vision for nursing research by understanding benefits. In: Albert N, Building and Sustaining a Hospital-Based Nursing Research Program. New York: Springer Publishing Co; 2015. [Context Link]


5. Bloomfield S, Clark D, McKelvy D, White L. Health sciences libraries. Maine Policy Rev. 2013;22(1):80-84. [Context Link]