Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
MLA Letter to Senate Judiciary Subcommittee
Dear Mr. Clement:
Last fall, members of the Medical Library Association and th Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries met with you to discuss our interest in supporting Senator Ashcroft's efforts to achieve balanced intellectual property legislation. In support of Title II. of S. 1146, you asked us to send you information on ways that distance education is being used in the medical profession. We are pleased to provide you with the enclosed information from the University of Arizona and The George Washington University that describes several distance education programs. We also wish to address why distance education is important in the medical profession and our concerns with intellectual property rights in this context.
In the profession of medicine, distance education is an important and critical tool. It serves many purposes which include:
Some examples of distance education programs include:
Computers and advanced telecommunications technologies facilitate these educational and patient care situations. It is the position of the Medical Library Association and the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries that our laws must not create technological barriers that restrict the practice of distance education and access to information. Our libraries must be able to provide the same level and quality of knowledge-based information services to all students and faculty, regardless of where they are trained or work.
Following are highlights of several sample distance education programs in the medical profession.
The George Washington University in Washington, DC contracts with the United States Navy to provide education and training of its Independent Duty Coremen through its Clinical Management and Leadership Program for Health Sciences Professionals. Through the program, naval personnel, who provide frontline medical duty, are able "to advance their knowledge, skills, and careers without ever having to leave their duty assignments. Courses are conducted using videotape, the internet, printed study guides and textbooks." Students may be as far away as Japan and Iceland while participating in the program, and graduation day may be the first time that the student travels to the campus.
The George Washington University is currently working with Operation Smile to bring teams of health professionals into countries such as Bosnia and Columbia to provide specialized medical care that does not exist or isn't readily available. In April, the students and faculty from GW, The School of Public Health and the School of Medicine and the Health Sciences will travel to Bogota, Colombia to participate in a telemedicine demonstration project where surgeries will be televised live at the University for purposes of education and training.
In both of these programs, the Himmelfarb Library of the George Washington University Medical Center supports the information needs of students and faculty. It is not uncommon for library staff to receive a request for information over the Internet that is needed in order to effectively treat patients. It is crucial that intellectual property law not limit or restrict access to information that is used to support the education and training of students and that could impact patient care, regardless of the location of the computer work station from which the request is made or fulfilled.
The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona has developed several programs that promote the practice of telemedicine and excellence in health care education throughout the state. In the near future, telemedicine will play a central role in certain educational programs by creating multi-site "virtual classrooms" for medical students and other students of the health care professions throughout the state. First and second year medical students soon will perform preclinical rotations in rural communities and keep in touch with their rural physican-preceptors through teleconferencing. During their third and fourth years of medical school, while on their clinical rotations in rural communities, students will stay in contact with faculty at the College of Medicine in Tucson.
The University of Arizona also sponsors programs that seek to strengthen disease-prevention and health-promotion efforts throughout the state. For example, the University Heart Service works with the state's Native American Communities and the Indian Health Service to address serious health problems in a comprehensive fashion, focusing on culturally sensitive prevention and health promotion activities, as well as 'cutting-edge' clinical care and prevention-based research. Other programs provide pediatric genetics services to Native American children; offer education and information resources on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment to the public; and conduct a mini-medical school and educational public forums on controversial medical issues.
The computer and advanced telecommunications technologies are the vital link to implementing all of these programs which provide Arizona's citizens with access to medical care and biomedical information, as well as support the education and training of health professionals.
The enclosed booklets describe these programs and others in more detail. I hope you find this information helpful. If you seek additional information, please contact me or any of the individuals listed on the attached page.
Carla J. Funk
Distance Education Contacts from the Medical Library Association/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries
K. Anderson, Director
A. Bader, Ed.D.
Carla J. Funk
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2007 June 21