The maths topics you’re learning today help healthcare professionals save lives, everyday
“We use maths and data in the medical field all the time, from measuring a patient’s vitals to interpreting public health statistics or calculating the potential spread of a global pandemic!
“In my job, I look at numbers, graphs and charts everyday to make sure our hospitals are running smoothly and efficiently, and patients are getting the best possible care. If you have your sights set on a career in medicine or health, then numeracy is an important skill to add to your toolkit.”
– Professor Erwin loh, Group Chief Medical Officer &
Group General Manager of Clinical Governance, St Vincent’s Health Australia
Statistics and probability
In school, you might be learning the probability of throwing two 3s with dice and wonder why it even matters if you’re not into board games! But in the health sector, statistics play a crucial role. For example, in public health, they have helped us to understand and put the brakes on a global pandemic. Statistics are also applied when looking for patterns in genetic data, whether in an individual genome or across populations.
The jobs: Biostatistician, Bioinformatician, Epidemiologist, Geneticist, Molecular biologist, Public health physician
Fractions, conversions and ratios
The maths involved in calculating the safe and effective dosage of a medication for an individual (based on factors such as their age and body weight) can mean the difference between saving a life or causing a dangerous overdose!
The jobs: Pharmacist, General practitioner, Toxicologist, Nurse, Oncologist, Physician
Equations and formulas
Equations aren’t just about calculating the sides of triangles and drawing graphs – they can be used to calculate crucial health information, such as how much oxygen the blood can carry, and figure out drug dosages.
The jobs: Pharmacist, General practitioner, Researcher, Nurse, Pathologist, Optometrist
There are few walks of life where basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, division and multiplication) doesn’t come in handy – and working in the health sector is no exception!
Monitoring vitals (such as pulse, blood pressure, temperature) is the first step in pretty much any healthcare interaction and requires foundational knowledge of whole numbers, decimals, fractions and more.
The jobs: Physiotherapist, Paramedic, Nurse, General practitioner, Surgeon, Physicist
You might be surprised by the diverse applications of the field of geometry in real life – and yep, health is one of them! For example, geometry concepts would be involved in 3D modelling a tumour, to help healthcare professionals with a treatment plan, such as for a complicated surgery.
The jobs: Researcher, Oncologist, Optometrist, Surgeon, Radiotherapist
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Maths & Data 2022.