Dr Patricia Flatley Brennan on Staying Contemporary at the National Library of Medicine

As a career employee in an increasingly partisan atmosphere, Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, the new director of the National Library of Medicine, has the benefit of being one-step removed from political upheaval, while still being close to a political appointee to ensure her work is aligned with new policies.

Does being a career employee as the director of the National Library of Medicine, instead of a political appointee, make your job easier or harder?
Well, I've only been in the government for 6 months so it's hard to say what's easy about this job just yet. What I will tell you is that it's critically important that someone who preservers the knowledge for health be a career employee. This allows us to have a constant stream of oversight to carry out our responsibilities to the public for aquiring and disseminating the knowledge for health.

Now, the person to whom I report is a political appointee. This is also an important part of our portfolio, because understanding how the National Institutes of Health fits into the larger public, political culture is very critical so we know how to be responsive to and provide the information and, frankly, the discoveries for health as it's currently thought of. Being a career employee has a little bit of an advantage in that I am one-step away, removed from the political upheaval to be able to provide a constant platform for discovery and care. But being so close to a political leader allows me to make sure that what I'm doing is contemporary and well-aligned with important new policies.
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