What interested you in data research?
I started to look beyond pharmacy as a career because I realised so much could be done with data in health care. And I felt it would be best for people in healthcare to do this because we understand the data. When working with health metrics, maybe the blood count or blood pressure and sugar, we know the acceptable range, so we’ll see when the data is telling us something.
The indicators can tell a story, or give an insight. So having healthcare professionals in data science means we can pick up these insights and can recognise emerging patterns. This means that we can contribute to the greater good of healthcare not just by being on the frontline of patient care but also doing these important things behind the scenes.
I felt like I could be doing so much more. I feel like I can do so many things. All that came together to push me into data science.
How did you find out about the internship
I was told how good the internships were by an alumnus who had so many good things to say about this internship. It had put them in a much better position than before, so was something they recommended for me.
What did you do in the internship?
An analysis of a survey of students and staff members at the UK’s medical schools to see what level of data science they were learning and teaching respectively.
It’s no secret that the world is changing, and data science has a major role to play in all of our lives, and healthcare is not going to be left behind. We really need our healthcare professionals to have the skills to maximise the new world of data.
So the Medical Schools Council wanted to know how much data science is currently in the curriculum. I was charged with the analysis of their survey.
What are the headline results?
One thing that stood out is that a bit of data science is taught, but not to the level it should be. And it’s still within the confines of statistics and clinical trials. Not much is done in areas like basic computer programming, use of statistical tools, analytics or big data analysis.
Another thing that stood out was that students and staff are of the opinion that data science is going to be very, very important for healthcare in the future. That perception isn’t matched by what is being taught and the tools students are given.
There is a big contrast between expectations in terms of the need to learn about data science and what is actually being done.
What happens to your report now?
The fact that the Medical Schools Council did the survey means they’re interested in knowing what the situation is and possibly finding a way ahead. I think there were suspicions that not enough is being done, but there was a need for evidence.
The analysis has given an holistic view and a proper picture of what the situation is.
I’ve submitted the report and recommendations.
What were your key recommendations?
Some schools were teaching more data science than others. My recommendation was to make sure there is, maybe not a uniform curriculum, but a uniform learning outcome or learning objectives.
Another recommendation is to use existing resources to make sure that students are being taught data science. There is already much to learn in the medical school curriculum and the responsibility to teach health data science does not have to lie just with the lecturers.
Students are keen to learn about data science, they know it’s going to be important. That’s something that can be leveraged.
HDR UK is doing a great job creating awareness on health data research and analysis, this plus boot camps and summer internships could make a big difference. Attempts could also be made to maximise already existing online resources and trainings on data science. This will be a more cost-effective option.
What about your future?
My dynamic skill sets mean I can fit into a lot of places. I would love to do something that has an impact on my immediate environment and the world at large.
The work I have just done was inspiring, because it may influence what other medical students learn. And it was something I understood, having been a pharmacy student myself and wanting to learn more about health data science.
I look to do more useful and impactful work moving forward, wherever I find myself.
Will the internship help?
The internship has given me so much in two months that I can’t even quantify it. It has instilled so much confidence in me. The feedback was excellent and HDR UK was a perfect organisation to work with. The internship helped me to grow because it gave me the freedom to do things and learn, which let me explore different options.
It has given me the creativity and willingness to take charge and be responsible for certain things. So yes, it definitely makes me ready for what comes next. I’m not going to be scared of taking on a project now because I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.