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To maintain awareness of current medical evidence and clinical practice guidelines in order to provide the best possible patient care, physicians must be able to locate, critically evaluate, synthesize, and make clinical decisions based on health information from multiple digital sources. Concerningly, however, medical students and junior doctors have been found to exhibit poor information literacy skills, including an inability to conduct efficient literature searches, find randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews, or evaluate study quality. Here, we describe our medical library’s experience in administering the Health version of the Research Readiness Self-Assessment (RRSA) tool to two cohorts of first-year medical students to evaluate their perceived and actual competencies in finding and critically evaluating online health information. We also describe our creation of online training modules that aim to improve medical students’ health information literacy skills, including one on using Bloom’s taxonomy to ask great research questions and another on deciding when to use various types of information sources (e.g., textbooks, journals, point-of-care clinical decision tools) to answer different types of health-related questions. Our preliminary findings suggest that first-year medical students are better at evaluating health information than they are at finding health information, although both skills show room for improvement. These findings will help guide our development of additional educational interventions to improve medical students’ research readiness.


Library and Information Science | Medical Education