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Medical Library / Information & Communication Sciences


Health Literacy in Practice: "Ripped from Today's Headlines"

4th Year Medical Elective


This elective introduces the concepts of health literacy within the context of communicating valid, reputable, and understandable health information to your patients, your community, and your colleagues to increase health awareness, patient safety, and public health. Today's world offers unprecedented access to health information for health professionals and consumers alike. Patients arrive in doctors' offices with newspaper clippings, magazine articles and ads, and Web printouts. How will you respond?

In this elective, you will learn where patients obtain health information; how to identify, select, and guide your patients and their families to good consumer health resources at different educational, cultural and language levels; your options for producing or procuring patient education materials for use in your practice; and presentation skills for community or professional activities (including residency presentations).


  1. Students will learn about patients' major sources of health information.
  2. Students will develop an understanding of health literacy, patient education needs, and the impact of both on patient safety and public health.
  3. Students will learn to evaluate consumer health resources using health literacy standards.
  4. Students will acquire a knowledge base of design and communication tools necessary to present health information to varied audiences, taking into account cultural, linguistic, and health literacy levels.


  1. Students will be evaluated on discussions with faculty based on readings and short assignments.
  2. Students will develop and present a health information product (e.g., flyer, poster, Web page) for a defined audience and then delineate what changes would be necessary to make this product appropriate for a different population.


*Student to contact course faculty TWO WEEKS before beginning elective.


Rhona S. Kelley, MSLS




Fran Kovach, MLIS
Carol Gordon, MS
Invited Faculty


Minimum: 2
Maximum: 6


Half-Time, AM only, 1 Week


0.5 non-clinical credit awarded

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