Evidence-based practice librarian Lorraine Porcello was the unanimous evidence-based choice for her outstanding teaching achievements.
Author: Matthew Cook
Lorraine Porcello

After graduating from the University of Alberta with a B.S. in psychology, Lorraine Porcello watched all her friends dive into their careers. Several years later, she was still trying to figure out where to begin her own. Having discovered a knack for teaching, she began looking within the education field, where she came across the opening for “Library Assistant IV” in Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester. At the time, she had no aspirations to make librarianship a career. And that’s crazy because she’s exceedingly good at it.

Porcello is now the evidence-based practice (EBP) and instruction librarian for the Edward G. Miner Libraries at the Medical Center and is going on 20 years at the University. Her outstanding teaching achievements in the nurse residency program at Highland Hospital and the core graduate education curriculum at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH) are why she was the unanimous choice for the 2021 Martin E. Messinger Libraries Recognition Award.

“Nobody’s the sole author of their own success,” Porcello says. “I could not have done the work that I did to earn this award without the incredibly smart and generous collaborators that I’ve had in the Dental Center, at the hospital, and in my own library.”

At Highland Hospital, Porcello collaborated with Rebecca Knowles, director of the Nurse Residency Program, to design and teach an EBP curriculum for nurses. The EBP curriculum is delivered in eight sessions over a year-long residency, culminating in nurse-residents designing a unit-based initiative that addresses patient safety, equity, professionalism, patient-centered care, employee wellness, or cost and efficiency.

Highland’s Magnet designation and the Nurse Residency Program becoming Rochester’s first and only American Nurses Credentialing Center accredited Practice Transition Program (with distinction) are due, in part, to Porcello’s contributions.

“These designations wouldn’t be possible without Lorraine’s guidance and expertise in evidence-based practice strategies,” Knowles says. “Her commitment to our nurse residents and our program warrants acknowledgment from her peers and national recognition.”

At EIOH, Porcello created the semester-long course “Principles of Evidence-Based Dentistry.” The 400-level course helps dental students understand how to search for evidence to inform clinical decisions. With a focus on writing brief critical assessments of research articles, the course teaches students how to formulate answerable clinical questions that can be researched and how to evaluate their findings.

While based at the Medical Center, Porcello’s work in dental education extends beyond Rochester. Earlier this year, she worked with dental librarians across North America through the dental caucus of the Medical Library Association to make a strong case for librarian involvement in dental instruction and planning. That case took the form of a rubric that aligns information literacy concepts with competencies from dental education groups in the United States and Canada.

Porcello has also left her mark on the Department of Family Medicine. In 2012, Celeste Song, MD, an assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), sought her partnership to elevate the Family Medicine Residency program curriculum. In addition to teaching the principles of asking clinical questions and using resources to find evidence, Porcello helped develop a website to support the curriculum.

“Lorraine is creative and very invested in our residents’ education,” says Song, “always coming up with new ideas to make our curriculum better. Her expertise in evidence-based medicine, education, and search skills are invaluable to me as a clinician and a colleague.”

In 2017, Porcello and Song brought on Brook Levandowski, assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the SMD, to expand the curriculum. The team recently had a manuscript on the success of their curriculum accepted for publication by Family Medicine.

“Lorraine is brilliant,” Levandowski says. “She is dedicated, detail-oriented, reliable, and approachable, due to her quirky sense of humor.”

The Messinger Award is an endowed award that takes its name from a longtime friend of the libraries and lifetime Trustee Martin E. Messinger ʼ49. Porcello is the 11th recipient of the annual award, which honors contributions that advance the educational mission of the library or the library profession.

“I had no idea that I was even eligible, much less, being considered,” says Porcello on receiving the award. “Once it sank in, I felt so grateful. To be so honored among my peers at the University is truly humbling and heartwarming. This is absolutely one of the best surprises that I have ever had!”∎

If you would like to learn more about Lorraine Porcello’s work, you can contact her at Lorraine_Porcello@URMC.Rochester.edu. For more on the Messinger Award and its honorees, contact Matt Cook, senior communications officer for the libraries and collections, at m.cook@rochester.edu

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