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Jamie M Gray, Nicole Capdarest-Arest


Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Education City, Qatar Foundation

Blaisdell Medical Library, University of California, Davis, United States



Effective leadership necessitates the cultivation of a specific set of attitudes, skills and behaviors. Leaders in all fields are required to navigate across constituencies, make sound business decisions, communicate effectively and efficiently, and inspire those they lead. However, there may be variations in how these competencies are outlined and expressed within various disciplines. Since an important component of the roles of library leaders is to communicate both internally within the library and also externally with leaders and stakeholders in other professions (e.g., healthcare executives), it is important to understand how leadership is approached from an interprofessional context. As professionals, medical librarians have documented sets of competencies to guide professional practice. For example, both MLA and ALIA have outlined specific competencies for health information professionals. Within these frameworks, leadership is one particular area of focus. This work is intended to explore leadership expectations in comparison to one another, as well as those introduced by the multidisciplinary Healthcare Leadership Alliance.


An online search was conducted to identify professional competencies documented by the main medical library organizations. Frameworks for both the Medical Library Association (MLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) were identified. Additionally, leadership competency frameworks for physician, healthcare administration, and nursing professionals were sought, and the Healthcare Leadership Alliance (HLA) framework was selected. This framework identifies standards from organizations representing executives in nursing, physicianship, healthcare administration, health informatics and health financial management. Each leadership section of the ALIA and MLA document was included for review, along with the entire HLA document. Given that specific examples of demonstrated competence varied, overall domains and clusters were assigned for comparison.


Both the ALIA and MLA competencies map onto 5 of the 5 domains HLA outlines. It should be noted that one HLA domain – Professionalism – is a separate competency not specifically tied to leadership in the ALIA and MLA competencies, whereas it is integrated in the HLA framework among the rest of its leadership competencies. Competencies noted within both the ALIA and MLA frameworks are mainly weighted to the HLA Business Knowledge and Skills domain.


Leadership is an important element of medical librarianship that typically receives minimal formal professional level discussion in comparison to other topics. Although there are specific competencies identified for leadership, within the medical librarianship landscape these skills are rolled into the larger overall professional competency frameworks. It is interesting to find that executive leaders within the various healthcare domains had their own set of identified competencies. Developing a more formalized leadership framework such as the HLA model may be a benefit as libraries increase their interaction and partnerships with more interprofessional leaders.


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