13 August 2020

Two men are sitting in a basement office with phones ringing repetitively. Both are avidly working at their respective computers. One man picks up the telephone and sighs “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

And so, this marked my introduction to the field of computing. Sadly, for me, such notions were not based off comprehensive scientific research but instead extensive binge watching of the IT Crowd on Netflix. The flaws in my knowledge surrounding this versatile field were apparent. The need to educate myself, addressing my own misconceptions, surrounding this digital domain, even more so.

As a female in the medical field, computing predominantly appeared irrelevant regarding my professional development and future career path. Indeed, in popular culture, computing is almost exclusively advertised as a male orientated subject for those interested in gaming, coding or some other subject that uses intimidating terminology somewhat sounding like battleships found in Star Wars (cue IT crowd: ‘Yes, I think you have might need to update the YT-1300 light freighter’). As you might have grasped, I somewhat naively wrote this subject off a little prematurely.

With just a slight sifting through Google, the applications of computing and digital technologies in the medical and social care domains become undeniable. Computing has revolutionised the healthcare system allowing for the streamlined service, rapid results retrieval and evidence-based approach that we, as both professionals and patients, now receive.

I am aware, however, that navigating the internet in the search for reliable resources can prove daunting. It is challenging to know where to begin, especially when a simple Google search of “computing in healthcare” generates over 405 million hits. Where to begin?

After careful reading, one organisation rose above the rest with regards to content coherence and resource availability: the British Computing Society (BCS). This charity has a dedicated health and care team working to actively create and distribute an array of resources. These range from written articles, encouraging young girls to become passionate in STEM, to conferences discussing novel strategies acting to improve modern clinical and care outcomes. In summary, the ethos of BCS appears simple: to use computing strategies in order to always put patient’s health and care needs first. It is in society’s best interest to invest time and resources into avenues improving both health and care settings.

Using this platform, I intend to navigate the novel landscape (or at least new to me) that is digital media and computing in medical and social care and in the process hope to dispel sterotypes surrounding computing studies and encourage others to take interest in this versatile and essential field.

Caitlin-Stuart-DelavaineAbout the author

I achieved a First-Class Honours in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 2017. Following this, I worked in the Clinical Neuroscience Department at The University of Cambridge. I am currently in my third year of studying Medicine at The University of Glasgow. I am interested in the role of online platforms in medical education and science communication and research.

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