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Career Preparation: Tips for College Students

If you are in college at the undergraduate level and are planning to enter the career of health sciences librarianship, prepare ahead! Know what various medical librarian jobs are, where they are, and what expertise you may be expected to know or learn.

Expect to earn a master’s degree in library and information sciences from a school accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) as required for medical librarian positions.

  • Programs generally require 1–2 years for completion; online and distance education programs are available.
  • Review the "Library Schools with Courses in Health Sciences Librarianship" site to find schools that offer health sciences librarianship courses; find out about the schools, including entry and academic course requirements.

Explore the diverse roles and settings in which medical librarians work.

  • Spend a day shadowing a medical librarian in a hospital or academic health center. There may be a medical school on your campus and a medical librarian willing to show you hisor her working environment.
  • Volunteer at a hospital information desk.
  • Work in your college library or computer lab—library positions make excellent student work-study jobs!
  • Talk to your university librarian about education and skill requirements and job opportunities.

Inform yourself about available scholarships for library and information sciences programs.

  • Student scholarships are available from MLA for students entering or attending an ALA-accredited library school program; visit the MLA grants, scholarships, and fellowships area
  • for more information and criteria.
  • Look for individual scholarships from institutions offering MLIS, MLS, or informationist degrees; state libraries, library systems, and other associations may also have scholarships available.
  • Look into post-graduate fellowships from the National Library of Medicine.
  • Consider a post-graduate internship at an academic health sciences library.

Explore Websites and publications that profile health sciences librarians and their work.

In graduate school, take courses in scientific literature, biomedical communication, health informatics, electronic and print resources, database searching, organization and management, bibliographic instruction, online course design, and web development and design or systems design.

Find out about the environment in which medical librarians work.

  • Positions for medical librarian include information services librarian, Internet services librarian, instruction librarian, digital archivist, Web manager, cataloger, technology consultant, administrator or director, electronic resources coordinator, or many other fascinating positions.
  • Medical librarians work in academic health centers, hospitals, health information centers, government agencies, Internet companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other health care industries.
  • Medical librarians work with physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, pharmacists, medical faculty, health professions students, health care consumers, and even patients and their families.

Combine technological savvy with service in a career that makes you part of the health care team and a leader at the forefront of technology!