Meet Karen O’Grady, Librarian for the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science

Meet Karen O’Grady, Librarian for the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science

Karen O’Grady is a fan; of nurses, of libraries, of medical libraries. And it all came about as a fluke. O’Grady was in a library technician program when a friend gave her a job as a library assistant in a hospital. It was then she knew she wanted to do as a career.

“I got really interested in nursing because of the nursing students who were on their clinical rounds in my hospital. They were the only nurses that asked me for help.”

O’Grady went on to earn two master’s degrees; one in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University and the second in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction from California State University, Chico.  She dreamed of running her own library.

She was hired to do just that for Kaiser Permanente Health Sciences Library in Northern California.  Then, she came to San Diego in 2017 to work for a government contractor, running the technical library at Naval Base Point Loma. When she arrived in San Diego, she noticed the beautiful school on the top of the hill overlooking Mission Bay. She dreamed she would eventually work there.

“I told everybody that I wanted to be the nursing librarian at USD. I mean, for years, I've been wanting to work here. I can't tell you the things I've done to just hang around the campus.”

But last month all that changed. She no longer had to find reasons to hang around campus.  Another of her dreams had become reality.

“It's my dream, my dream, my dream!” O’Grady said. “I got my dream job at my dream university.”

As the nursing librarian, O’Grady will work with both nursing students and nursing faculty, but she will do very different things for each group.

For faculty, she intends to learn all their specialties.

“This is a very accomplished faculty I'm dealing with,” O’Grady said, “So they know what they're doing. It’s my job to alert them to anything new, any information, books, conferences, databases, and eventually, grants.”

That’s her specialty when it comes to busy medical professionals.  At Kaiser, she provided medical professionals with the precise information they needed but did not have time to look for themselves. That is her goal at USD.

“I will look for the things they would want and need to use without giving them anything they can’t use.” 

For students, it is her passion to teach them how to find the materials.  O’Grady tells a story of when she learned how to conduct research.  There was no internet.  There was no Google.  Research took a long time to complete.

Since the proliferation of medical databases, O’Grady says many researchers have become impatient, particularly those who were not alive in the days of the abacus. She notes these researchers will merely type a few words into Google and if they don’t get the information they want, they give up. 

“I'm very big on hand-holding for students who are intimidated by technology,” she said. “Many nursing students are getting back into school after being in the workforce and I really think that 50% of the techno-phobia that goes on is just anxiety.  I'm very good at talking people through be the anxiety.”

She is happy to show students how to navigate the medical databases such as Medline/PubMed and CINAHL.  But she admonishes them not to wait until the last minute to begin a research project.

“I try to tell them all the time; there are no shortcuts,” she said.  “Research takes time. I've been doing nursing medical research for years and sometimes it takes a whole day to find what you need.”

O’Grady wants Hahn School of Nursing students to use the medical databases as often as they use Google or YouTube.  She also wants to help nursing students develop an important habit; one that will keep them on the cutting edge of their profession.  

“I want to get all of them regularly reading nursing journals in their specialties if they’re not already doing that.”

Karen O’Grady has many ideas for Hahn School of Nursing students.  She also as a dream; one that will instill in each student a desire to research and to make that desire become part of their lives. If USD nursing students do not have that desire yet, once they meet Karen O’Grady, they most likely will.

For now, you can reach Karen at her email address: kogrady@sandiego.edu.  Eventually, she will be happy to meet with students and faculty in her new office, which will be located in the Hahn School of Nursing Building in Room 102C.

begin quoteI told everybody that I wanted to be the nursing librarian at USD. I mean, for years, I've been wanting to work here. I can't tell you the things I've done to just hang around the campus.
Karen O'Grady

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Carol Scimone
cscimone@sandiego.edu
619-260-4730

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