By Jon Jeffryes
The University of Minnesota Medical School’s Duluth campus holds a distinct space in the ecosystem of medical research and education as one of 115 regional medical campuses in the United States and Canada.
Regional medical campuses leverage the resources and knowledge of their affiliated medical schools at large universities, while meeting unique local needs.
This situation provides great opportunities: The Duluth campus can focus on the specific health needs of rural Minnesotans and Native American communities.
But it also includes challenges — especially when trying to communicate research findings and best practices with other regional medical campuses. Issues pertinent to regional medical campuses are often dispersed across the literature, making them hard to find, or they aren’t being published because other medical journals found the focus too specific.
In fall 2016, Connie Bongiorno, Clinical Librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Bio-Medical Library, began working closely with the Medical School in Duluth. As they developed a partnership, a solution emerged.
“We knew there was a need,” says Dr. Paula Termuhlen, Dean of the Medical School’s Duluth campus.
“Connie brought us the idea ‘Well, why have you never thought of an online open access journal?’” says Dr. Alan Johns, Associate Dean, “She brought us the vision.”
Supporting the Duluth Campus
Another challenge faced by regional medical campuses is that their main library and information resources are on the medical school’s main campus. For the Duluth campus, that’s a distance of more than 150 miles.
“Before Connie arrived we really didn’t have a sustained model of support for the Medical School at Duluth.” explains Lisa McGuire, Associate Director for Education and Research Services at the Health Sciences Libraries.
Staffing limitations meant that Twin Cities Librarians would respond to reference questions and information requests, but no single person was assigned to build a deep working relationship. The University of Minnesota-Duluth Library served as the Medical School’s main point of contact.
“With Connie’s arrival, we were able to create more of a structured support for the Duluth campus,” McGuire explains. “We realized we had another opportunity to help the Duluth campus feel connected and have a librarian.”
Developing the journal
Through their partnership, Bongiorno, Termuhlen, and Johns used their complementary areas of expertise in crafting a proposal for a high quality journal titled Journal of Regional Medical Campuses. Termuhlen and Johns knew the needs of the field while Bongiorno leveraged her knowledge of library systems, academic literature indexing, and scholarly publishing.
“She brought the idea of what quality looks like in an online open access journal,” explains Johns.
The journal will serve as a forum for ideas and research around regional medical campuses across North America, and will raise the visibility of issues unique to regional medical campuses. Along with those benefits to the medical field, the journal also provides local benefits to the Duluth campus.
“We will use this journal as a foundation for educating faculty and students on research and publishing,” says Bongiorno. “This journal will allow opportunities to learn about manuscript and research development, editing, submission, h-index, impact factors, and NIH grant work and research projects at the University of Minnesota.”
“These are the kinds of things that are extremely helpful for early career faculty whose academic careers will depend upon their ability to credibly represent their work in a very broad fashion,” Termuhlen adds.
Bongiorno’s leadership on the project has resulted in her being named a lead editor for the journal.
Moving towards publication
The group is working towards launching their journal with the help of the Libraries’ Publishing Services. They plan to release their first issue at the end of the year.
“It helps us represent the University of Minnesota in the world at large and shows that we can be leaders in something that we have a lot of content expertise about,” Termuhlen says. “Connie has helped us get that word out and I think that that’s huge.
Johns adds: “We’re proud to have the logo of the University of Minnesota Libraries on our online journal. I think that that will mean a lot.”