What Drives Connie Bongiorno

To find harmony between librarians and medical education?

By Jon Jeffryes

Connie Bongiorno
Connie Bongiorno

Connie Bongiorno personifies industriousness.

Bongiorno joined the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Bio-Medical Library just over a year ago as a Clinical Information Librarian and already possesses an impressive list of successes that have positively impacted the University.

The accomplishments of her first year include co-authoring and publishing a systematic review article with medical researchers, creating and implementing a model that helps medical researchers improve publishing productivity, and working on the launch an open access journal.

And those are only the major highlights — Bongiorno has leveraged her 20 years of experience to produce a host of innovative accomplishments in a short timeframe.

‘Harmony is a team-based approach’ 

Bongiorno finds inspiration in the core value of harmony. Her work is permeated with a desire to connect her professional strengths — expertise on medical information and research techniques — with the innovative services of the Libraries to support the needs of the University’s Medical School.

“Harmony is a team-based approach that allows everyone to contribute to the medical education process,” she explains. “When we all work toward the common goal of better patient outcomes, the harmony helps us continue to grow and build on each individual’s talent and contribution.” 

That harmony can be seen in Bongiorno’s work as a member of a clinical rounds team where she provides information at the point of need to support patient care.

“I provide the necessary research and education pieces to ensure the medical student, resident, and physician have the best evidence-based decision support tools to positively impact patient outcomes,” she explains.

Collaborating with faculty

Bongiorno also teams with faculty and researchers to conduct systematic reviews of the literature. Systematic reviews scan the existing literature on a particular illness or treatment method and synthesize the findings to give health professionals an overview of the best evidence on a given topic. These papers require comprehensive and reproducible search strategies — that’s where her expertise dovetails with that of the faculty.

In her first week on the job at the U of M, Bongiorno was given a systematic review that had been rejected by a journal with numerous editorial comments.  She joined the team and quickly became a project lead.

“I contributed significantly to the process of researching, writing, and editing the manuscript for the systematic review,” Bongiorno says. “I was listed as the co-author of the paper and it was submitted and accepted with no negative editorial comments.”

Contributions across campuses

Although based on the Twin Cities campus, Bongiorno also supports the Medical School on the Duluth campus where she created a model to improve research and publication practices and broadened dissemination to benefit the widest possible audience.

Bongiorno currently is collaborating on the launch of a new open access journal on the topic of regional medical campuses. She also started a Publishing Journal Club, held instructional sessions on the topic of “Writing and Publishing,” and provided customized research consultations.

In her spare time

When not attending patient rounds, providing researcher consultations, or partnering on systematic review articles, Bongiorno enjoys relaxing with a wide variety of hobbies. Hailing from the coast of Lake Michigan, she loves water activities such as boating and water sports. She’s also a big hockey fan and cheers for the Minnesota Wild — as long as they are not playing her home-state favorite, the Detroit Red Wings. Bongiorno also loves animals and volunteers at the Animal Rescue League.

Librarians can contribute to any team

Bongiorno believes that along with providing patients the best care, delivering dynamic and effective service also moves the librarian profession forward. 

“All of what I do helps educate the Medical School and other University departments on the value of librarians,” she says. “It shows how the librarian can contribute  to any team and lead initiatives in the academic and health-care education process.” 

And she sees a time when clinical librarians will be “completely embedded in medical education.”

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