My year studying Health Data Science - Farzaneh Farhoush

Farzaneh Farhoush has been part of the first cohort of students on our new MSc Health Data Science. She tells us how the programme has helped shape her career in health data science, and how she enjoys being part of the drive towards advancements in healthcare which can change the lives of patients and communities.
Farzaneh Farhoush

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background.

Before enrolling onto this programme, I had just graduated from doing a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science. Here, I became interested in bioinformatics, big data and discovering how technology can advance the healthcare industry. This led me to spend my free time learning how to code and taking online courses to get introduced to statistics, which allowed me to secure my spot in the MSc Health Data Science.

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM? 

I chose to study Health Data Science at LSHTM as it is a prestigious institution providing the perfect combination of programming, statistics and epidemiology for anyone looking to enter the world of health data science. The course is also supported by Health Data Research UK and other well-known companies who provide insightful seminars throughout the year and provide many interesting summer MSc projects. The School ethos ‘improving health worldwide’ also resonated with me as I have been driven to obtain a career where I can be a part of the advancements in healthcare and give back to patients and communities.

What have been your favourite aspects of the programme?

My favourite module so far has been the Data Challenge in Term 2. In this module, you have the opportunity to complete a short consulting project for a client using real-world, publicly available data in small groups with fellow peers. Not only does the module allow you to combine all the content you will have learnt in Term 1, but it also gives you an insight into what real consulting projects of health data scientists could look like. There is a particular focus on developing employability skills and the extra contact time you will have connecting with peers allows you to learn from their individual backgrounds and expertise.

How will the programme help you with your career in the future? 

As previously mentioned, the course is designed to provide you with many opportunities to develop necessary skills needed by health data scientists. The exposure to real-world data and tasks in different areas of health data science have helped me decide the right career path. The cohort is also made up of people from many different backgrounds ranging from medics, to working professionals, to fresh graduates, allowing you to gain an insight into working effectively with others in a professional and social manner.

What are your plans for after you complete your studies? 

I aim to gain a career as a health data scientist within a pharmaceutical company or healthcare provider. The course has shown how broad the area of health data science could be from effectively managing electronic health records, to applying machine learning models to predict disease outcome. After being shown what each sector has to offer, I believe that my interests lie most with combining big data science directly to health and disease research.

'I chose to study Health Data Science at LSHTM as it is a prestigious institution providing the perfect combination of programming, statistics and epidemiology for anyone looking to enter the world of health data science'

What skills have you gained from studying this programme? 

Programming, Frequentist and Bayesian statistics, machine learning, epidemiology study design, data management, teamwork, project management, report writing and presentation skills.

Have you been able to connect with other students? How have you done this? 

Due to the pandemic, I am yet to meet with any of my lecturers and peers face-to-face. However, this has not held me back from forming good connections with peers and staff. Regular Zoom tutor meetings and breakout rooms have allowed me to find great support during my studies. The course coordinators and student representatives have also put in lots of effort to organise virtual socials and ensured that our voices were heard throughout the year. There are also many other events and seminar series held outside of the course involving the whole School and you can choose to take optional modules from other courses, such as Public Health, giving you the chance to network with other students.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course at LSHTM? 

I would advise anyone interested to apply to make good use of the many resources available online to give you a strong foundation to many of the modules on the course. Online courses are also useful throughout the masters as they provide you with many more opportunities to put the things you learn into practice.

Please sum up your experience of studying Health Data Science with LSHTM.

My experience of studying Health Data Science at LSHTM has been very valuable. The switch to online teaching was managed very well with special effort put in place to still provide support remotely. As the course is designed to combine all the different skills needed for a health data scientist, you might find that you have strengths in some areas and limited to no experience in others. Learning new things can always be challenging but as long as you remember that there are likely many others who feel the same within the cohort, you will find immense support. At the end of the day, we are all trying to succeed in the world of Health Data Science and help advance the healthcare world. 

Tell us a bit about you – what do you do when you’re not working or studying? 

I like to find ways to be creative and immerse myself in film, photography and painting. I also enjoy the outdoors and going on walks and keeping active. I do, however, always aim to try and find new ways to continue building upon my computational skills by finding online courses I can complete, for example I aim to complete a course on SAS soon.