Projects, deadlines, exams, late nights, and coffee jitters are the most frequent uninvited visitors at my closet of a dorm room at my State University. These four tumultuous, fascinating, and sweat-inducing undergraduate years places me in the midst of cutting-edge information and innovations that will shape my future in health sciences, and the future of the health system. Despite the excitement of the hustle and bustle of a university in an information age, this deluge of information can leave me feeling lost and confused in search of direction and focus both in current areas of study and my future career.

For those college students who, like myself, are interested in medicine, health sciences and systems, or health policy, library resources can serve as a guide through the waves of information. The National Library of Medicine (NLM)’s National Information Center for Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR) recently launched one such helpful guide: NICHSR ONESearch, a search engine that specifically houses information on health services research (HSR).

This new search option brings together results from research articles, events, webinars, podcasts and information on ongoing and recently completed health services projects by consolidating four NICHSR resources: the Health Services Research Information Central (HSRIC) web portal, the Health Services Research Projects-in-Progress (HSRProj) database, Health Services and Sciences Research Resources (HSRR) repository of data resources, and PHPartners, a  collaborative resource designed to improve public health. ONESearch allows you to explore HSR information through a single search to give you a broad landscape of a topic in HSR. Narrowing in on results can help you focus your interests, or find your interests, something that many college students struggle with.

For example, I have a strong interest in pursuing a career in maternal and child health, and I wanted to see what was available to me through this lens in NICHSR ONESearch. A quick search of the term “Maternal and Child Health” garnered 1,892 results. With a quick scan of the search results I was able to see that infant mortality is a large realm of research and discussion, as is childhood nutrition and obesity, and pre-term labor. I viewed various surveys from both state and national levels that gave me  a current picture of health care services available to mothers and their babies, as well as the outcomes of these services.

Through NICHSR ONESearch, I could also find the organizations funding and conducting research projects on maternal and child health care improvement, such as the National Newborn Screening & Global Resource Center or Healthy People 2020. A few related searches on family health later, I had a greater understanding of ongoing projects in the field. I had access to grant funding information, census surveys, research papers, and more: a comprehensive snapshot of the current state of maternal and child health.

I can empathize with the feeling of being lost within the university system and overwhelmed with the opportunities available. NICHSR was able to reveal an enormous amount of curated information on maternal and child health so that with a single search  I could find information on my cause and community of interest. I share this so that you, too, can make informed decisions about how your goals fit in with the goals of the health community so you can step out of your dorm and find your way among the hustle and bustle with your own mission.

Editor’s note: HSRProj is a joint effort of AcademyHealth and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  It is funded by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Department of Health and Human Services. 

Shruti Gautam

Health Policy Intern - AcademyHealth

Shruti Gautam is a Health Policy Intern at AcademyHealth. She assists in the outreach, maintenance, and market... Read Bio