EBHC Tutor Profile Sarah Stevens
February 2, 2018
What was your earliest ambition?
When I was about ten years old I wanted to be a writer/ journalist because I have a real interest in history and politics and enjoy writing. At secondary school though, I soon realised my natural abilities lay in mathematics and statistics instead!
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My maths and statistics teacher at school had a PhD in Medical Statistics and made the subject so interesting and enjoyable to learn. I could never understand why he would choose to teach school children given his qualifications, but he developed my initial love for the subject.
Why did you get into EBM?
My first degree is in Mathematics and although many of my peers went to work in banking and insurance, I wanted to do something with my skills that had tangible benefits for people. Doing an MSc in Medical Statistics was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What do you feel has made the most difference in EBM?
We’re not quite there yet but I am hugely optimistic about the future of “big data” and routinely collected data in healthcare, where my interests lie. There are still many unknowns and caveats with using this kind of data for research but we’re also starting to see the benefits, from more pragmatic “real-world” trials which are generalisable to everyday practice, to the study of very rare diseases which has been a challenge historically.
Describe your approach to research in three words.
Attention to detail.
What do you like most about teaching?
I don’t think it’s possible to effectively communicate a concept to someone else unless you truly understand it yourself, so teaching in itself is a learning and revision tool for me. There are always new questions from students too which encourages learning and is thought provoking on everyone’s part.
Do you have any regrets about becoming a PhD?
I’ve only just submitted my thesis, so maybe ask me again in a couple of years!
What has been your most innovative piece of teaching?
I’m still relative new to teaching, so I’m hoping my most innovative moment is still to come!
When are you having the most fun at work?
I can lose many hours writing code for a new analysis because I get so engrossed in it. Those days are my favourite.
If you weren’t a teacher what would you be doing instead?
A full-time researcher or a ski instructor.
What do you find hardest when teaching?
Finding the balance when a session is delivered to people with varied backgrounds can be a challenge. You want everyone to go away having benefitted from the session, but you can’t afford to “lose” people if they struggle along the way.
If you were given £1 million for research, what would you do?
Develop a tool to encourage GPs to enter data more uniformly/ systematically into patients’ records (be it a training module, new software etc.) as this structured data is what researchers then use in analyses of routine data.
What one resource should every EBM enthusiast read?
Richard Lehman’s weekly BMJ journal review blog.