According to Google search results for ‘how to become a healthcare data scientist’,

There are three general steps to becoming a data scientist:
  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, math, physics, or another related field;
  2. Earn a master’s degree in data or related field;
  3. Gain experience in the field you intend to work in (ex: healthcare, physics, business).

In the wake of our very first Schools Engagement event as part of our HDR UK Summer School, it has brought to light the positive way in which we are facilitating students to develop both personally and professionally in the area of health data science in order to enhance the ways in which school-age students are exposed to these three stages of career development in order to grow the next generation of health data scientists in the UK.

The three directives given by Google are simple and undeveloped but go some way to give an oversight into the requirements and expectations of those hoping to begin a career in health data science in the UK today. When looked at in these basic terms, it is easy to see how HDR UK’s own Training strategy aligns with this and there are examples of each of these given in the strategy to show how we are helping to facilitate these steps towards training the next generation of health data scientists.

  1. Step 1: Encourage younger students to enter the field of health data science through hosting schools engagement day
  2. Step 2: HDR UK recently funded six MSc programmes to increase the capacity to deliver the skills and knowledge to work in the field
  3. Step 3: Provide opportunities through placements and apprenticeships to work across organisations.

Last week we focussed step 1 by hosting the first HDR UK Schools Engagement Activity Day.  In St Andrews, at the end of the fellows summer school, a team of fellows, research leaders and the training team hosted 45 sixth form students form the local area.  This was an opportunity for the students to gain insight into the main areas that make up health data science and ask questions about the life as a health data science researcher.  The day was started with a lively and interesting talk ’Live is a Risky Business’ from our invited speaker, Jen Rogers (University of Oxford). This highlighted the pitfalls when interpreting risk in everyday literature such as newspapers and websites.

Five HDR UK fellows (Joram Posma, James Fasham, Lamiece Hassan, Rob French and Mark Adams) designed individual activities that demonstrated key topics in the field over the course of a couple of months preceding the event, and these we delivered in a festival approach over the day, so students could visit and interact with each activity station.  The stations included Man vs Machine Learning, Interactive Health Data Simulation, Genomics and Open Prescribing.  Further descriptions and corresponding materials will be made available online so that others too can run these activities in the future.

Watch this space as HDR UK plans more schools engagement initiatives to raise awareness of health data science and the plethora of job roles and careers that are available.