Karen Knight, Medical Education Librarian
This article was written by Karen Knight, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
In April 2020, Karen Knight, Medical Education Librarian, facing the reality of the approaching pandemic, knew that she needed to find a way to both protect her health and continue to serve the needs of School of Medicine students and teaching faculty. Working from home was a welcome and easy adjustment, as Karen regularly responds to students’ questions seven days a week, nights, and weekends from remote locations. Bolstering the ease of the adjustment was the fact that she is very connected to the medical students (and to the curriculum) because of the hours spent together in the classroom and Library, as well as virtually through a closed Facebook Group that she created called "From Karen's Desk".
With the worry about her own health set aside, Karen was able to focus on helping faculty and students navigate the many changes that were necessary in transitioning the classroom into a virtual learning experience. Karen notes that she couldn’t have met the School of Medicine’s needs alone, and that she relied heavily on the teamwork and expertise of the Library staff, noting that, “This interdependence and collegiality have strengthened Library bonds and I believe that this positive appreciation for one another will outlast the pandemic.”
Though Charlottesville hadn’t experienced the pandemic in the overwhelming way that some areas of the country had, one of the reasons that Karen took the situation so seriously was because she heard first-hand accounts from last year's graduates about the challenges that they faced in hospitals across the country – including in New York City. Given the immediacy of those accounts, she could not ignore the fact that the Class of 2020 would very quickly transition from students to interns and residents during what is perhaps the most challenging time in modern medicine. It may not be easy going forward but, Karen says, “Having witnessed the way in which the Class of 2020 dealt with personal and academic challenges (including the loss of what are customarily in-person celebrations for important milestones such as Residency Match Day and Graduation), I have every confidence that they will meet the challenges with the same teamwork and positive spirit that they have shown as UVA medical students.”