Hospitals are employing experts like Jane Shrapnel to help them save lives by digging into the data.
When patients present to the Emergency Department, it’s the nurses’ and doctors’ jobs to look at their symptoms, figure out what’s wrong and help them. But they don’t work alone. In the background are experts contributing crucial knowledge – people like Jane Shrapnel, the principal data scientist at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
It’s Jane’s job to figure out how data can be used to improve patient care and outcomes. For example, during the current pandemic, she is helping collect data on COVID-19 patients to help inform decisions around bed capacity and demand for intensive care.
“In the future, we will be looking at implementing tools to support clinician decision-making for things like determining the patient’s risk for severe coronavirus or what treatment plan might be best for that particular case,” she says.
Care factor: high!
After finishing high school, Jane signed up for a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and international relations at Deakin University in Victoria.
She soon realised she wasn’t keen on becoming a psychologist, but liked the statistics and human rights parts of the study. She combined those as part of her Masters in statistics research into reducing the mortality rate of children aged under five in Africa.
Jane says she loved maths at high school, and that maths is useful not just in her role as a data scientist, but in any healthcare job. “Every level of the hospital requires some level of data literacy skills,” she says.
Jane’s study and career pathway
- Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and International Relations, Deakin University
- Masters in Statistics, Macquarie University
- Data Analyst, MLC
- Data & Insights Manager, Workplace Gender Equality Agency
- Data Scientist, McKinsey & Company
- Principal Data Scientist, Sydney Children’s Hospital
This article originally appeared in Careers with STEM: Maths & Data 2020.
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.