By Erinn Aspinall
When Liz Weinfurter began serving as the Bio-Medical Library’s liaison to the School of Nursing in 2005, it would have been hard to imagine how fully she would contribute to the Nurse-Midwifery Program. It would have been even harder to imagine how fully she would benefit from this work.
Supporting teaching & learning
Weinfurter’s liaison work continues a long-standing partnership between the Nurse-Midwifery Program and the Bio-Medical Library, which was strengthened through their collaboration on the Technology Enhanced Learning in Graduate Nursing Education (TELIGN) grant, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
This grant worked to transition graduate nursing specialities to hybrid online programs so distance students could continue to practice in their own (often rural) communities while continuing their education.
Weinfurter began working with distance students by providing an in-person orientation to the library’s electronic resources. This work quickly evolved, and Weinfurter began creating online tutorials and using online meeting software long before these tools were commonplace. She even developed a way to use the emerging technologies to hold online consultations so distance students did not have to wait for on-campus sessions to get help with research questions.
While technology has evolved to support distance students in new ways, Weinfurter’s role in helping nurse-midwifery students with their research and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) projects remains constant. It has become a highlight of her work.
“By working so closely with students and faculty, I have come to know the research and practice needs of nurse-midwives,” Weinfurter said. “I hope that by teaching skills related to finding the best evidence, I have played a role in improving education, research and practice.”
Rachel Matz, a third-year DNP student in the Nurse-Midwifery Program, confirms that Weinfurter has indeed played a role in her education.
“Liz was so great to work with,” Matz said. “She helped me immensely in researching my project by helping me develop search strategies for the various topics of my paper. She is a wealth of knowledge and is so approachable.”
Enhancing research & practice
Through her work with the Nurse-Midwifery Program, Weinfurter has developed a genuine collaboration with the program’s director, Professor Melissa Avery. Weinfurter has worked with Avery, along with her collaborators and research assistants, to advance the practice of nurse-midwifery through the development of book chapters, journal articles, and systematic reviews.
“It has been a distinct pleasure to work with Liz these past nine years,” Avery said. “In addition to outstanding general support for my students and me, and helping with the evidence column, she developed a normal birth resource web page for our program and was instrumental (and co-author) in a recent systematic review related to physiologic birth submitted for review with Professor Melissa Saftner.”
Weinfurter contributes to a bi-monthly column titled, “Current Resources for Evidence-Based Practice.” This column is published simultaneously in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health and the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing.
It is through this work that Weinfurter’s librarian skills shine. Her role in the column’s development is to serve as the expert searcher, using her knowledge of the discipline and of the library’s information resources to find the evidence that will be summarized in the column. This involves developing database searches to identify relevant systematic reviews, meta-analyses and guidelines, along with hand searches of new Cochrane reviews and additions to the DARE database.
With the relevant research in hand, Avery and her research assistants complete a final evaluation and report the evidence-based findings in the column. This has given Weinfurter the opportunity to be a part of informing the practice of nurse-midwifery beyond the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center.
After eight years of working with professors, researchers, and students in the Nurse-Midwifery Program, Weinfurter had the unique opportunity to experience the outcomes of her liaison work when she gave birth to her daughter in 2013.
“The nurse-midwifery philosophy of birth as a normal physiologic process that my body was designed to do was ingrained in me as the ideal,” she said. “All the information I had discovered through searches over the years, such as using a doula for labor support, gave me the tools I needed to prepare for an intervention-free birth.
“That path gave me a lot of confidence and reduced my anxiety leading up to birth, which was a real gift,” Weinfurter added. “I did all my prenatal care and delivered at the University of Minnesota, and I saw several nurse-midwives and students in clinic whom I had worked with in some capacity through my job. It was really neat to be on the other side of things experiencing care, and to realize that this is the reason health sciences librarians do what we do.”
Weinfurter’s experience exemplifies the important role that access to quality health information can play for both providers and patients in supporting a successful healthcare outcome. It is in this spirit that the Bio-Medical Library’s liaisons work with the schools and colleges of the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center. By meeting information needs related to teaching, learning, and research, we might all be as fortunate as Weinfurter to have confidence in our health care choices.
For more information:
Liz Weinfurter, MLIS
Liaison and Instruction Librarian
Bio-Medical Library, University of Minnesota
Erinn Aspinall, MSI, is the Web Presence Coordinator & Project Manager for the Health Sciences Libraries at the University of Minnesota.