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Chapter News: Crossing Borders, Breaking Boundaries: UNYOC Annual Meeting 2018

UNYOC meeting logoSubmitted by Denise Smith, Conference Planning Cochair, McMaster University, and Jennifer McKinnell, Conference Planning Cochair, McMaster University

The Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter (UNYOC) held its annual meeting November 14–16, 2018, at the picturesque Queen’s Landing Hotel. This Georgian-style venue located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, is a quaint, historic Canadian town that is so close to the United States border, its residents often pick up US cell phone signals.

To acknowledge hosting this year’s meeting across the border, the theme, “Crossing Borders, Breaking Boundaries,” focused on challenging participants to consider ways that they can break from traditionally accepted norms in the workplace and in the health sector.

Three keynote speakers were featured over two days. Ellen Amster, McMaster University, spoke about the humanity of medicine and understanding the meaning of medical practices through a humanities lens. Specifically, she addressed what she believes is an existential crisis in medicine that is manifesting itself as physician discomfort with evidence-based medicine, caregiver burnout, and clinician ambivalence over empathy for the patient and the self. Through the intersection between the medical humanities and the history of evidence-based practice, Amster explained ways of returning to the basic reality of seeing the meaning of medical practice.

The second speaker, Karen Heisig, the board chair of the Western New York Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, shared her passion for changing the culture of mental health awareness by explaining risk factors, preventative measures, and warning signs that an individual might be considering death by suicide. She included in her talk current statistics and research evidence to help participants better understand the warning signs that someone might be thinking about suicide and what we can do if we are concerned about someone.

Finally, Robin Brennan, Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services Ontario, and Irene O’Connor, doctoral candidate at McMaster University, challenged participants to consider the changing work environment and how vocational programs, like the one they offered, can accommodate employees with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to reduce bias in the workplace and set up these employees for success. Results from a unique vocational training program for individuals with ASD implemented across several departments at McMaster University were discussed.

This year’s continuing education session offered participants a chance to “peek under the hood” of their library websites and guides. Susanna Galbraith, McMaster University, and Andy Hickner, Interprofessional Health Sciences Library and Information Commons, Seton Hall University, Nutley, NJ, taught participants how to harness web analytics to see how library guides are being used, how to make guides accessible to users with disabilities, and usability methods that can improve a website.

In addition to invited guests and teachers, the conference offered several opportunities for local chapter members to participate. Four lightning talks and six twenty-minute papers were presented across two days, which included a variety of subjects ranging from understanding the opioid crisis to re-visioning a library service model.

The conference planning cochairs extend their gratitude to all the sponsors of this year’s meeting, with special thanks to Gold-Level sponsors: EBSCO Health and Wolters Kluwer. The conference planning cochairs also thank all members of the Conference Planning Committee and the incredible staff at Queen’s Landing, who helped make this year’s event a success.

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