Critical care physician Ana Spataru shares her experiences as a recent student on the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care
19 October 2023
EBHC programmes Students
Ana Spataru completed her MSc In Evidence-Based Health Care thesis in 2022 with a project focusing on the use of automatic technology for the administration of intravenous medication, a task usually performed by healthcare professionals.
The results of her research have been published as a systematic review in the Journal of Clinical Computing and Monitoring and assess the performance of automatic computerised systems for the administration of intravenous medication in anaesthetic and intensive care practice. The evidence derived from this study helps clarify the benefits and drawbacks of this new technology in high-risk settings.
Tell me about yourself- Where did you study and work previously?
I am a Critical Care physician with a strong interest in Neurocritical Care. After graduating from medical school in 2011, I enrolled in speciality training in Anaesthesia and Critical Care. I started my training in Romania and subsequently moved to Belgium to complete my medical residency. I relocated to the UK in 2017 for a critical care fellowship at King’s College Hospital in London, where I worked until the end of 2020. Subsequently I moved to Toronto to pursue additional training in critical care in one of largest trauma centres in Canada. While in North America I completed an MSc in Evidence-based Healthcare at Oxford. After returning to the UK last year, I started working in the department of Neurocritical Care at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire, UK.
What were your experiences in your previous studies?
One of the best things about pursuing medical training in Europe was the flexibility that came with it. During my residency and my fellowship, I had the opportunity to move across different countries to develop my skills and gain more professional experience. I enjoyed enormously travelling the world, discovering new cities and landscapes, training in different departments, and getting to know interesting people. Working as a doctor in different healthcare systems changed my perspective on how standards of care develop and evolve in medicine. I have also met extraordinary mentors and colleagues along the way, and I tried to learn something from every one of them.
Why did you choose Oxford for your Master’s programme and what helped you make that decision?
While progressing in speciality training, I realised that the correct interpretation of the available evidence and its adequate implementation at the bedside are essential to enable high professional standards and ensure the best possible outcomes for patients. I chose Oxford for my training in Evidence-based Healthcare for its excellent reputation in delivering postgraduate education and for the flexibility that the programme offered. I started my master’s studies while working in North America during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a difficult time, when all healthcare professionals experienced a very high workload and an unpredictable schedule. The fact that I could choose my modules at flexible times and work through the study materials asynchronously helped me manage my time efficiently and maintain an adequate work/life balance. The online delivery was excellent and proved to be an advantage when travelling to Oxford in person would have been impossible due to the COVID-related restrictions. Another factor that played a role in choosing this programme was the availability of a large number of modules covering various aspects of Evidence-based medicine in depth. I was therefore able to focus specifically on my area of interest which in my case was evidence synthesis and systematic reviews.
Why Evidence-Based Healthcare?
The main reason I decided to gain more knowledge in Evidence-Based Healthcare was a desire to work at the highest possible standards. During my training, while treating the sickest patients in the hospital, I realised that the best decisions at the bedside are those informed by robust evidence. Understanding and applying the correct evidence can directly alter a patient’s clinical course and make the difference between a good and a bad outcome. I believe that with more high-quality literature becoming readily available, an in-depth understanding of critical appraisal methods will become essential to inform the daily bedside practice. I do expect that in the future, sophisticated evidence-based healthcare methods will be automatically incorporated into clinical decision making and will define professional standards worldwide.
What have you enjoyed?
First, I really liked the quality of the programme. During my studies at Oxford, I had the opportunity to learn from world-renowned experts with vast knowledge in Evidence-based medicine. I had extensive support from my mentors at the University and access to the best available learning resources. Additionally, the flexible delivery of the modules and the possibility to study asynchronously was extremely helpful in maintaining a reasonable work-life balance during a busy time. I also enjoyed the interactions with my colleagues and teachers, the stimulating environment and the constant flow of new ideas and projects that were being developed at the University. Finally, working on my dissertation was both challenging and intellectually stimulating. On this occasion, I wish to thank Prof Annette Plüddemann who acted as my thesis supervisor and supported me through this process.
What would your advice be to students considering studying your programme at Oxford?
I would say that studying at Oxford is a great opportunity to develop your critical thinking while being supported by exceptional mentors and colleagues. The programme helped me clarify and improve multiple aspects of my practice and, ultimately, make better decisions for my patients. Bedside clinicians like me are able to focus on the practical aspects of evidence implementation, while at the same time maintaining a high level of academic rigour. I would also advise everyone to enjoy Oxford as much as possible, it’s an amazing city that is worth exploring.