Cross-Functional Communication in Support of Student Understanding of PICO (T)
LBA Profile/CaseStudy
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Susan Van Alstyne, EdD 
Library Director 
Berkeley College 


Berkeley College campuses are located in New York and New Jersey and have a long history of successful online programs. With the introduction of the LPN to BSN program at the Woodland Park, New Jersey campus, librarians had to act quickly to design avenues for academic support.  

Librarians have supported the School of Health Studies for some time, so fortunately we already had access to some of the core resources such as CINAHL. As library director at the Woodland Park Campus Library, my colleagues and I worked with many students at the library and online during off-hours to provide the additional support they needed between their already busy schedules working in healthcare settings, with many being working parents managing households. The Nursing Research for Evidence-Based Practice (EBM) course concepts, particularly the PICO assignment, was the pain point for many students.  


We contacted nursing faculty and the Center for Academic Success (CAS) writing center to work together to develop instructional strategies. Many students had excellent practical knowledge but had never worked on academic research papers, making the connection between practice and theory. Students had to look for a gap in the research, but that was the idea that was difficult to grasp.  

Step 1: Contact the EBM nursing professor for a meeting and needs assessment. We agreed that a librarian would visit the class to introduce resources and the PICO LibGuide during the first two weeks of the semester. There was also a discussion about curriculum development and introducing the library, research, and writing skills earlier in the program before the EBM course. We contacted the writing center to invite writing tutors to join the librarian in the introductory sessions.  

Step 2Communicate the resources and services to students. Pre-pandemic, the librarians have always maintained a solid online presence via chat, 1:1 conferences, and research guides (LibGuides).  

Step 3Constant communication, especially with students, helped the librarians create online FAQs. One FAQ is specific to Evidence-Based Practice and the Nursing Research Library Guide for students to research articles. 

Step 4: Update content and evaluate resources. Librarians are constantly updating content and evaluating resources, even on a subconscious level! 

Step 5: Assess student learning outcomes, campus community satisfaction, and use of resources.  

Lessons Learned 

  • Start with empathy and provide quality customer service 
  • Brainstorm /ask questions – Learn about the different needs of your community 
  • Communicate with effective and clear communication 
  • Lifelong learning – As librarians, we had to revamp our skillset and understanding of nursing resources. Take advantage of free NLM training and resources and reach out to vendors for supporting resources.  
  • Ask for help – Create and refine the instructional strategies plan 
  • Evaluate resources and services (librarian and CAS assistance) to scale for growth 
  • Create helpful guides specific to your community needs 
  • Assess outcomes 

We had the resources both the students and the librarians needed to learn the most effective way to use the material to support the students. We worked as a team to develop and create a LibGuide customized to our students’ needs. In building our Research Guide, we evaluated our existing resources: 

  • CINAHL with Full-Text Database  
  • Nursing & Allied Health Database  
  • Healthcare Administration Database  
  • Health & Medical Collection Database  

Then added open access and free resources, including: 

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews  
  • PubMed in Evidence-Based Practice Website  
  • Evidence-Based Practice: Step by Step: The Seven Steps of Evidence-Based Practice 

We also purchased additional access to streaming media products and provided faculty support on how to embed library resources such as ebooks, articles, audio, or video into the LMS. 

The most effective way to market our resources and services is through personal communication, results, and student feedback. Our team was busy with requests for individual research assistance before the move to offsite. Our services expanded with open Zoom sessions and an increase in 1:1 research appointments.  

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