Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Why Being A Programmer Will Make Me A Better Doctor

View as: Print Mobile App Share: Send by email Share on reddit Share on StumbleUpon Share on Hacker News Share on Tweeter Share on Facebook
Tim Keyes of Stanford's Medical Scientist Training Program

"With any programming project, it's critical to break your overall objective into a series of smaller, more manageable objectives," says Tim Keyes, an M.D./Ph.D. student in Stanford's Medical Scientist Training Program. "I've found myself applying the same principle in medicine."

Credit: LinkedIn

Author Tim Keyes is an M.D./Ph.D. student in Stanford's Medical Scientist Training Program.

As an M.D.-Ph.D. student whose research is more focused on machine learning and algorithmic development than on biology outright, I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about the seeming disconnect between the skills I need for research and the skills I'll need to provide good clinical care as a future doctor.

My research focuses on building predictive models of treatment response and relapse in pediatric cancer, so I spend most of my time writing R and Python code that wrangles, visualizes, and models data collected from patients. Yet despite spending most of my time programming, I know for a fact that coding is not in the top 20 (. . . or maybe top 100) skills needed to care for patients in a clinical environment.

Still, a few years of experience in both contexts has shown me that some lessons I've learned from being a programmer generalize wonderfully into my life as a medical student — and bode well for my future balancing these two worlds.

Here are a few of my insights.

From Scope@10k
View Full Article


No entries found

Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account
ACM Resources