February 17, 2018

Nakia Joye Woodward | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Advocates

Nakia Joye Woodward


Senior Clinical Reference Librarian, Quillen College of Medicine Library, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

MSIS, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2003


Photo by Gerry Philpott

Health-Care Wonder

Nakia Joye Woodward, the senior clinical reference librarian at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine Library, is a grant-getting wonder. Most of those grants are devoted to a singular mission: bringing health services to the rural Appalachians.

Woodward coordinates the library’s participation in Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinics, a nonprofit, airborne relief corps that brings free health, dental, and eye care to rural towns. At schools, churches, even racetracks in rural Tennessee, people begin lining up at 5:30 a.m. for the chance to see a doctor. To help them pass the time, librarians hand out books to the adults, crayons and paper to the kids. They also disseminate information on tooth extraction care, good hygiene, exercise—and more.

At each clinic, Woodward sets up a booth at which volunteer librarians from local public, hospital, and academic libraries answer participants’ medical questions. Woodward developed a ticketing system that keeps their medical information and questions strictly confidential. According to Quillen medical library assistant Sue Knoche, one of Woodward’s nominators and an LJ award winner in 2003, Quillen was the first library in the state to develop this type of program delivery.

As of January 2015, Quillen staff provided consumer health information to more than 3,000 RAM attendees. “My personal record for on-site consumer health searches conducted is 286 in one day,” says Woodward, who joined the library in 2004.

Woodward also secured more than $100,000 in grants to fund the library’s rural health outreach team, providing instructional classes, computer equipment, PDAs, and databases for library workers, health-care providers, and physicians in 50 small hospitals and clinics in 25 underserved counties.
She’s a frequent presenter at medical library conferences and has given many instructional presentations at local community centers, rural clinics, and nonprofit organizations.

“Woodward possesses a wealth of knowledge and extraordinary communication skills, along with a commitment to enhance lifelong learning,” says Knoche.

Woodward’s advice for successful outreach: leave the library. “Get out of the building. Community projects help people, and they also help show them just how relevant libraries are,” she says. “It is a great opportunity to educate people on our abilities and programs.”

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.