How to Become a Medical Librarian

How to Become a Medical Librarian

Many medical librarians prepare themselves for their career by first earning a bachelor's degree concentrating on management, medical terminology, biology, medical sciences, and similar topics, though any will suffice.

A master's degree in library and information science is necessary to become a medical librarian.

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

First you have to get a bachelor's degree if you want to get into a library science graduate program. While there is no specific major requirements, some schools might look for humanities, social sciences or science backgrounds.

It wouldn't hurt if you decided to take science or pre-med courses during college since you are going into a field where you need to know about subjects related to medicine.

A course load for a library science major could look like the following:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • English 101, 102
  • History 101
  • Foreign Language 101,102
  • Aesthetic Values (art, music)
  • College Math
  • Psychology
  • Electives
  • English
  • Communication Studies
  • Foreign Language 201, 202
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Library Science 201
  • History 102
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Lib. Science 401
  • Lib. Science 405
  • Lib. Science 416
  • Lib. Science 408
  • Lib. Science 411
  • Lib. Science 415
  • Lib. Science 417
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Lib. Science 418
  • Lib. Science 445
  • Lib. Science 491
  • Lib. Science 489
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

Additionally, courses in the following areas could assist your career path:

  •  Medical terminology
  • Anatomy
  • nursing
  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Computer science
  • Database structure, design, and searching
  • Web design
  • Adult education or teaching experience

2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)

Most graduate programs require the GRE for admittance. It's a 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam that covers analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

The GRE is broken down into six primary sections:

Section Section Breakdown
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas.
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • 20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data.
2 Verbal Reasoning Sections
  • 20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

You can find study materials, GRE registration, and test scores on the GRE website.

3. Earn a Master's Degree (2 Years)

Medical librarians must have a Master of Library and Information Science degree from a school with an ALA-accredited program.

These programs are typically 48 semester hours of graduate-level course work and focus on the following:

  • Human Information Interactions (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • Information Resources and Services (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • Resource Selection and Evaluation (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • Organization of Information (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • Overview of Research Methods (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • Management for Information Professionals (3.0 credits) (suggested for third semester)
  • Proposal Preparation and Presentation (1.5 credits) (suggested for third semester)
  • Master's Thesis

There are certain library science graduate programs that give you the option of choosing a health sciences or medical library concentration.

Some colleges have dual degree programs that allow you to get your medical degree and your master's degree in library science.

4. Earn a Doctoral Degree (Optional)

Optionally, a medical librarian can also earn a degree in medical informatics or go on to pursue a PhD in Library and Information Science. Regardless of exact academic details, the universities chosen should be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).

The degree will also have a specialty track, such as special libraries, public libraries, and so on, and may involve information technology studies to help with current electronic and database management in the medical world.

5. Join a Credentialing Program

Once you become a medical librarian, you may apply for membership in the Academy of Health Information Professionals, a credentialing program for medical librarians sponsored by the Medical Library Association (MLA).