Katresa Gardner Named Medical Library Association Caucus Chair
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Katresa Gardner Named Medical Library Association Caucus Chair

April 25, 2024

Katresa Gardner (professional headshot)As the public services librarian at PCOM South Georgia, Katresa Gardner works directly with students helping them locate the resources they need for research, supporting the work they do in the classroom and even demonstrating how to search a database when needed.

She’s also Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s representative to the Medical Library Association (MLA), a network of more than 3,000 health information professionals and more than 400 institutions, who work together to provide the most current information for the health care professionals they serve.

Members of MLA’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus recently elected Gardner as caucus chair. In this role, she will lead the caucus’ executive committee and represent the caucus, which currently consists of about 300 members, and represent the caucus on the MLA Community Council.

MLA caucuses are groups of members who unite around a specific topic of concern. Caucus members share information with each other and the general MLA membership about that topic to broaden each other’s understanding.

According to Gardner, the LGBTQIA+ Caucus is charged with “building social justice and promoting equity within MLA for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Serving as chair of MLA’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus is another way Gardner helps deal with obstacles related to diversity and equity issues in health care.

“LGBTQIA+ has been an interest of mine, particularly with health equity,” she said. “In this role, I’m just gaining the support, getting the resources and just collaborating with others within MLA to have a voice in that organization.”

As PCOM South Georgia’s public services librarian, Gardner often looks for ways to help students find the resources they need. That’s how she discovered the need for one of her most notable projects, the “Skin of Color Resource Guide,” which includes images of patients with different skin tones to increase representation and improve treatment of patients.

“In looking at the literature, I noticed there’s a significant under-representation of skin of color in medical education,” she explained. “I created the ‘Skin of Color Resource Guide,’ and one of the goals was to provide awareness … This is an area that has been overlooked. The goal is to work with faculty to embed these images in the curriculum. What looks like a rash on a person with one skin color may very well be something different on a white skin tone. This bridged the gaps. That’s what we’re trying to do to prevent any medical misdiagnosis.”

Gardner has made several conference presentations about the guide with more scheduled, including in March at the Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District second annual Health Equity Summit held at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. She will also present about the guide at the upcoming MLA conference in Portland, Oregon.

Katresa Gardner poses with her DEI Award“In Portland, I’ll be making this presentation with my colleagues,” she said. “It just continues to show that PCOM is a forerunner. We’re being progressive, and we’re being inclusive. This supports the mission of the college as a whole.”

Gardner lives in her hometown of Valdosta. She holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Science with a minor in Business and a master's degree in Library and Information Science, both from Valdosta State University. Gardner joined PCOM South Georgia in July 2019 after serving as the reference librarian and then web services librarian in the Sarasota County Library System in Florida. Before that, she worked in library administration at Georgia Military College.

“This position was a great opportunity to come back to South Georgia and for my kids and me to be closer to home and to my parents,” Gardner said. “And it was a great opportunity to be a part of something new, a new campus, a medical school. To see something start and then grow is very fulfilling. I’ve been very honored to be a part of the vision for this campus.”

In October 2023, Gardner received the annual Employee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Staff Award for South Georgia. She has also served on the PCOM President’s Council on Equity, Inclusion and Justice.

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    In 2019, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied 125-year history, extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia. An additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia, PCOM South Georgia offers both a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution that trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the region. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 229-668-3110.

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