Librarian leads UChicago Educational Support Team for COVID-19

Doctors, medical students and librarians collaborate to share the latest research on COVID-19 with clinicians on the front lines

Kaitlyn Van Kampen headshot
Kaitlyn Van Kampen

Only a few weeks after her arrival at the University of Chicago, Kaitlyn Van Kampen began leading an interdisciplinary team gathering cutting-edge research for doctors battling COVID-19.

Hired as the Kathleen A. Zar Clinical Library Resident, Van Kampen joined the Library in January and then began to work with the Medical Center in February, expanding the embedded clinical librarian rounding to general surgery, pediatrics, neurology, the mother-baby unit, and general internal medicine. For each team, she provided research support to investigate clinical questions and demonstrated to the residents and students how to perform searches to find the best evidence.

Then the novel coronavirus started to spread in Chicago. All non-essential personnel were withdrawn from rounding activities. Van Kampen shifted focus to instead produce COVID-19 resources, including a COVID-19 library guide on the library’s website for the general public. In collaboration with infectious disease Fellow, Dr. Maggie Collison, a website for hospital clinicians with prominent journal articles and other resources relevant to medical teams was subsequently developed. These articles were then cross-posted to the COVID-19 library guide.

Kaitlyn Van Kampen (second from left) working with medical students and residents at Mitchell Hospital early this year.

As the amount of literature being published increased dramatically, Van Kampen, Collison, and Debra Werner, the Library’s Director of Library Research in Medical Education, were asked by hospital leadership to perform literature reviews and provide reliable resources for clinicians. Very quickly, this team evolved into the UChicago Educational Support Team for COVID-19, adding five fourth-year medical students and an internal medicine intern, and sponsored by Associate Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Learning Environment, Dr. Vineet Arora. The team’s focus was expanded to support frontline clinicians across the organization who were treating or evaluating patients for COVID-19, including in the special “COVID” units that cohorted patients with COVID-19.

Led by Van Kampen, the team’s current principal functions are to answer clinical questions about COVID-19 and to summarize important COVID-19 literature. They also play a major role supporting conferences and ongoing collaborations including one between UChicago Medicine’s infectious disease team and their counterparts at Wuhan University. To ensure the vital work of the team will continue, it has been approved to become a medical school selective course starting this May for upcoming fourth-year Pritzker students.

The impact of the UChicago Educational Support Team for COVID-19 extends beyond UChicago Medicine. They have been contacted by universities around the nation about their methods for collaborating and sharing their materials. Librarians from Northwestern University and Thomas Jefferson University have requested use of the website for hospital clinicians and its literature resources. An Emergency Department resident from Brown University requested support in establishing a similar team at their hospital.

While the COVID-19 pandemic required our librarians to physically distance themselves from patients and our hospital staff, it has also inspired them to discover new ways to engage with a worldwide health crisis and to make vital contributions to patient care and to COVID-19 education at UChicago Medicine.

The team would like to thank the medical trainees who serve on the team and the support of Dr. Stephen Weber, Chief Medical Officer, the Hospital Incident Command System leadership, and the UChicago Medicine clinical staff serving on the frontlines.

The Clinicians page of the COVID-19 Library Guide
The COVID-19 Library Guide