A Day in the Life of an Informatician

Posted by: Alexandra Starks - Posted on:

This week, I had the thoroughly enjoyable experience of interviewing candidates for next year’s GMTS intake. It was wonderful hearing about all of their backgrounds and experiences, and even though I was interviewing them, I learned so much.

But, that’s not my topic for today. What I actually want to talk about is what my day-to-day work is like! Nearly every candidate I spoke to asked me the same question: “So what do you actually do every day?” Since I can’t speak to every person considering the scheme, I thought I’d answer that question here.

My hours are flexible. I have to be at the hospital from 10-4, but I can choose my other hours as I prefer; I usually sleep in a bit!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m working as an information analyst on a business intelligence team, so my job is very desk-based. I usually come in, power up the computer, and check my e-mails, which are few and far between compared to some of my general management colleagues! After I check my own e-mails, I check the information department inbox, which I’m also responsible for. I read any enquiries that have come in since the previous day, and forward the more complex ones on to members of the department who work in that area–the simple ones I answer myself. Then it’s on to the real work.

I’ve worked on projects relating to many different services and activities since I’ve been on the scheme, but most of them involve lots of time working with spreadsheets. I often need to start by extracting data from the SQL Server, where all of our local information lives. Then I pop it into Excel and start analysing! In some cases, once the analysis is done, I may create graphs or charts to help non-analysts understand the results: data visualisation is important! Sporadically, I may also be asked to do work in other programmes, like QlikView or SSRS. But, if you don’t know what those things are, never fear! Neither did I on day one!

After completing any project, I report back to my manager, who often will give feedback or ask for additional components to be included. That process continues until we’re both happy with the result, which is often used for things like contract negotiations and commissioning rounds. That’s the best and scariest part of being on the scheme–you do real work from day one, and it has a real impact on patient care.

On the rare occasions that I have any free time, I take advantage to get some of my academic work done. As an informatics trainee, I have to keep up with both the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme, and an informatics course at UCL! Although it’s very time consuming, all of the extra work means that I don’t ever go a day without learning something new.

So, that’s an average day in the life of a current informatics trainee! We all have very different placements and different roles, so I would encourage you to read other trainees’ blogs as well, to get an idea of the variety of work available. If you have any more questions about the kind of work I do, please feel free to get in touch: @alexandrastrks on twitter, or on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandrastarks).

Best of luck to all of the candidates currently applying, and I hope to see you next year!

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