MLA ’14 blog post by Jennifer Dinalo

Thanks to the NCNMLG Professional Development Grant I was able to attend the MLA Annual Conference for the first time in Chicago (May 17-21). This was a great experience for me. I enjoyed meeting new people, and I learned a lot about medical informatics, my personal interest, from the many different sessions I was able to attend!

As a first-time attendee, I signed up for the Colleague Connection Program. This program pairs first-time attendees with a mentor for the conference. My mentor was Brenda Green from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She was great about giving her perspective about the conference and introduced me to the many, many people at the conference that she knew. I also attended the new member’s breakfast with Brenda which was a great networking event that included conference tips from president Dixie Jones. This is definitely an experience I would recommend to new members!

Aaron Carroll, MD presented the John P. McGovern Award Lecture entitled “The Affordable Cara Act: Health Care Reform is Far From Over”. He spoke about the “Iron Triangle of Healthcare”: cost, quality and access. This is an iron triangle because only one or two sides can be changed at a time. For example, access and quality can both be improved but costs will have to go up or costs can be reduced with sacrifices to access or quality. Therefore, healthcare reform is about compromise, and the Affordable Care Act is about access. The lecture was very interesting and gave a great overview of the Affordable Care Act and its effect on the three sides to the Iron Triangle. I would highly recommend watching when it is available on the MLA website. As an incentive to watch, Carroll said that “You [librarians] are not a source of waste; you are underutilized [in the healthcare system]”.

The Medical Informatics Section sponsored to different programs, “Information Building blocks:  Open Data Initiatives and Trends” and “Librarian’s Role in the Translational Science Research Team”. Both sections had interesting talks that were very informative. The Technical Services Section program, The Evolving Role of Metadata in Medical Libraries: Structure for Evidence, discovery and Research, was also very interesting.

Overall, I enjoyed the conference very much. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. For those attending in the future I would highly recommend going to new things and meeting new people. On Sunday night there was a library school reunion that resulted in me going to the Field Museum for a publisher-sponsored event with new friends. I look forward to attending MLA Annual in Austin next year!