In late 2008 I was invited by Clínica Alemana of Santiago, Chile to visit their facility and meet with their staff to discuss library services at Mayo Clinic. Clínica Alemana is a modern multi-specialty private group practice with a 350-bed hospital and more than 600 physicians and 3200 allied health staff. It is affiliated with the College of Medicine at the Universidad del Desarrollo. Mayo Clinic and Clínica Alemana have had a Memorandum of Understanding since the mid-1990s. This academic agreement allows for exchange programs in education, research and other areas between our two institutions.
This invitation was an exciting opportunity for me—both personally and professionally. Chile has been on my list of countries to visit since my days as a Spanish interpreter at Mayo Rochester, where I met many wonderful Chileans. I would be able to use my Spanish while demonstrating the outstanding services and resources of the Mayo Clinic library system. And I might walk in the footsteps of our first librarian, Maud Mellish-Wilson. She accompanied Dr. Will Mayo when he toured hospitals throughout South America in 1920, and Santiago, Chile was one of their stops.
On March 17, 2009 it was “¡Rumbo a Chile!” My traveling companion and I spent a few days in the lake region before traveling north to Santiago for an intense week of meetings and presentations.
Once in Santiago, Mariela (Mely) Wijnant, Director of Medical Development, and Cecilia Pacheco, Director of the Medical Information Center (aka library) at the Clínica Alemana were my hosts and tour guides extraordinaires! They arranged for me to meet with physician leadership, medical education and IT staff.
The physician staff were interested in the library as a place where people could study and collaborate. And, of course, they were interested in our electronic library. They were surprised to learn that all Mayo employees can come into our libraries and use our resources, as well as access our library intranet site from any computer connected to the Mayo network.
At Clínica Alemana only physicians have access to the library and its resources.
During my presentations (in Spanish!) I was able to log into my office computer in Jacksonville, Florida from a computer in Santigo, Chile. And from there I could show the physicians our library intranet site, and highlight many of the its features such as customizing one’s own library page, our electronic request forms, the e-journals and e-books, and the online bibliographic databases.
The physicians were keenly interested in the ability to create reports that illustrate the academic productivity of their staff—this is critical for academic promotion, recognition of scholarly activity, and residency program support. One example was the bibliographic analysis available from ISI’s Web of Science, which I was able to log into and show them what the analysis would like for their institution.
I gave a similar presentation to a group of health sciences librarians from the Santiago area. I also highlighted the Web2.0 programs that Melissa Rethlefsen and I have done for our library staff, faculty and nurse educators.
The meeting was also an opportunity for the librarians to network and discuss ways in which they could best leverage their skills with their users and with each other.
We ended the work week with a visit to the College of Medicine at the Universidad del Desarrollo
where we met with the deans, vice deans and librarians. The library was abuzz with students getting ready for the Fall semester. Seeing this drove home the point that a library as a place is still very important—a place for discovery, a place for collaboration, a place for study.
And we ended our Chile experience with a weekend trip to the coastal communities of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. Mely and Cecilia morphed from able adminstrators to able tour guides.
Highlights were tours of the home of Noble laureate Pablo Neruda on Isla Negra and an organic vineyard in the Colchagua Valley (and, of course, we tasted its product!).
When asked how my stay had been in Chile, I said that it was a 15 on a scale of one to ten. It truly was a wonderful trip– the hospitality, generosity, efficiency were trademarks throughout Chile, not just at the Clínica Alemana. I hope that the staff at Clínica Alemana benefited as much from my visit as I did from them!
Ann Farrell, Winn Dixie Medical Library, Jacksonville