By Wendy Sarubbi | May 4, 2015 4:08 pm

Deedra Walton, a College of Medicine librarian who is the head of electronic resources, has been named a “Distinguished” member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP), an award that “denotes the highest standards of professional competency and achievement in the field.”

Walton is the second librarian at the college’s Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library to reach the milestone. Library Director Nadine Dexter also holds the honor.

“It’s really a reflection of a lifetime of working for your institution,” Dexter said of the recognition, noting that the “Distinguished” award level requires years of continuing education and service to the medical information community. “It’s very difficult to be selected.”

Walton has worked in the College of Medicine library for more than six years, taking the position months before the school’s charter class began their medical education. Through that time, she has seen the library become 99 percent digital, offering almost all textbooks and learning materials on handy iPad minis that fit into students’ white coat pockets. She and her colleagues say the reason for their work is to train the best doctors of the future, who have an understanding of how to use technology to keep up with changing medical trends. “It’s important to stay abreast of new technology so we can take our libraries to the next level in order to help our students become more successful,” she said.

Recognition from AHIP requires hours of supplementary instruction that goes far beyond the Library Science degree. Walton detailed some of those courses, which included an intensive study into PubMed — the National Library of Medicine’s database that indexes more than 24 million citations for biomedical literature. “We use the database to instruct medical students on how to find the literature they need for their research projects, or looking into a patient’s condition,” Walton said. UCF College of Medicine librarians are often charged with guiding students through PubMed during their FIRE (Focused Inquiry and Research Experience) module, a scientific research project each student must complete during their first two years.

AHIP recognition also requires service to the medical librarian community, and Walton has served in official roles with the Southern Chapter of the Medical Library Association and the Florida Health Science Library Association. She also serves as a mentor to three other librarians who are Provisional level AHIP members, including two from the College of Medicine.

Dr. Richard Peppler, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs, applauded Walton’s award, noting the recognition “signifies the highest standards for competency and achievement with respect to health care information,” a spirit that is passed along to colleagues and medical students alike.

Despite the prestige of the “Distinguished” status, Walton said her work is never done – especially in a field like medicine with new advancements and discoveries coming almost every day. “Just like physicians have to stay current to take care of their patients, we have to stay current so we can provide the best education to our students,” she said.

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