From Medical Librarian to Medical . . . Student?

Kacey Scott mace
Photo by Sara Christensen

How does a Spanish major become a medical librarian who becomes a medical student? Ask Kacey Scott, currently a clinical and research librarian at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC).

When Kacey, a Raleigh native, started college at UNC Asheville, she originally planned to follow the pre-med track, double majoring in Spanish and chemistry. However, as she put it, her perfectionist nature led her to doubt her medical abilities when she got a mid-level grade in an introductory biology course. “I decided to major in Spanish literature and then go to grad school for library science. But that original dream of practicing medicine one day never really left me.”

Kacey had her first encounter with AHEC while attending grad school at UNC Greensboro. “I decided to focus on medicine for my area of specialization in library science, and I had an internship at the Cone Health Medical Library, part of Greensboro AHEC.” She received a Master in Library and Information Science and worked a brief stint as a librarian and IT instructor at the Living Arts Institute in Winston-Salem, but ultimately decided she wanted to head back to the mountains. Kacey found a position at MAHEC as a research assistant in the quality improvement department of practice support. “I ran reports for local practices, tracked improvements in various health conditions, and generated graphs—a great introduction to the changing health care system and how it works.”

In 2014, one of MAHEC’s librarians retired, and Kacey landed the job. She was embedded as a medical librarian at MAHEC’s ob/gyn office. “Being right in the action re-sparked my original interest, and I realized what I really wanted to be doing was practicing medicine.”

She worked with her boss, who encouraged her to finish her prerequisites while continuing to work at MAHEC. In May 2017, Kacey sat for the MCAT and was accepted to medical school at UNC Chapel Hill, where she’ll begin classes this fall! Women’s health is her main area of interest, but Kacey said she’s not quite ready to box herself in. “I do know that I want to focus on working with stigmatized communities, and I want, eventually, to return to Western North Carolina and work in a rural setting. Through my work at MAHEC for five years and my initial exposure to AHEC in Greensboro, I’ve had so many opportunities and experiences in health care and have worked with colleagues in a wide array of disciplines. My experiences in the health care pipeline have really informed my view of where the future of health care is headed, and how I can best fit into that system when I get to practice medicine.”