After four exciting and formative years, I finally graduated from Harvard Medical School a few weeks ago. Aside from the abundance of bedside manner, physiology, pathophysiology, and procedural skills that I learned, here are the top four life lessons that I took away from the experience:
- Stay humble.
- Never be afraid to ask questions.
- Maintain balance between work and life — it makes both much more enjoyable.
- Stay plugged into your supports (faith, family, and friends).
Data is an integral element of the world in which we live. Innovative companies analyze user-collected data to improve the efficiency of daily tasks like searching the Internet, navigating a city, and finding the best place to eat. Similarly, healthcare is an incredibly data-drive field. On a daily basis, physicians and medical students like myself integrate patient data with findings from large studies published in major medical journals to provide the best care possible. To this end, there are numerous collective databases that exist among groups of medical professionals such as transplant surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and even plastic surgeons which enable larger sample sizes and thus more accurate determinations of health outcomes and the effect of various interventions among patients of a variety of backgrounds.
As a fan of open-source data, I was pleased to recently discover website healthdata.gov, one of the most powerful ventures by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in my opinion. I had forgotten just how much information the United States government collects through the services it funds such as hospitals, Medicare, Medicaid, and other national and state-based organizations. Whether digging through a geotagged database of toxic chemical spills in the United States or analyzing a database of cancer outcomes in low income elders, I can’t wait to delve into the plethora of eye-opening information that this website offers.
The information we need to make change already exists. It’s our job to put that information into action.