Manager & Senior Advisor, Clinical Affairs at Ipas
Keeping up-to-date with ever-evolving scientific literature is a challenge for staff in many health-related agencies. For global health agencies, ensuring that staff members are interpreting the literature and applying it to their work is further complicated by distance, time zones, variable backgrounds, perspectives and context. One way we have addressed these challenges at Ipas is by offering virtual journal clubs.
Several years ago, Ipas initiated a Journal Club as a face to face meeting of interested staff, to review recent literature in our field. The topics vary from a focus on a specific clinical question to more general topics, such as quality improvement. Our staff from around the world was encouraged to participate by calling in Journal club creates an opportunity to share recent lessons from the literature, discuss the impact new evidence will have on our program strategies, and keep staff up-to-date with emerging trends in the reproductive-health field. Over time, Journal Club has evolved to a virtual event, held about six times a year, over the Elluminate Live! Platform provided through LINGOs membership.
While Ipas has staff in 14 countries, North Carolina-based staff have largely facilitated Journal club during its first years. However, over the past year or so, colleagues from our offices in the developing world have facilitated three of the journal clubs. We believe this is one way to decentralize knowledge sharing, build collegial relationships and increase interest in the journal clubs, while drawing on and highlighting the expertise of our staff around the world. So far, two sessions have been led by colleagues from Nigeria, and one session by a colleague in India.
Each of these sessions has been well received and well attended. Although we have not officially evaluated these sessions, informal feedback affirms that people appreciate hearing from country-based facilitators and enjoy the chance to interact internationally over Elluminate. Likewise, the three facilitators have reported satisfaction and pride in leading the sessions and are interested in doing it again.
• In one of the Nigeria-led sessions, the facilitator was unable to maintain an internet/Elluminate connection; the session moderator (in North Carolina) had to improvise and lead the discussion.
Always have a second person at a different site prepped and ready to lead the session in case there are connectivity issues.
• Staff members are busy and proper preparation for a journal club takes time.
Work with the country team’s management to ensure dedicated time for the facilitator to prepare and lead the session.
• Country-based staff members are not actively seeking to lead these sessions. This may be due to the time and workload issues, or lack of confidence with either the article’s content or the Elluminate technology.
Be intentional in matching content with potential facilitators and their context, or ask them to suggest articles.
Work with the country-based facilitator in prepping/editing slides for the session.
Have at least one person on the live session with moderator privileges to manage Elluminate so that the facilitator can focus on content.
Organize Elluminate sessions whenever visiting country offices for trouble shooting, modeling and practice.
• Because our global staff work in many different time zones, it is difficult to find a common time when every country office can participate.
Offer two sessions of the same journal club in order to accommodate various time zones. For example, we usually offer one session for the participants from the US, Latin America, and Africa, and then offer a second session which includes the US support staff, the presenter, and participants from Asia.