About

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Eric Clarke, Richard Arnett and Jane Burns

Eric Clarke

Eric is currently a member of the academic staff at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and lectures on health informatics to foundation year students in Dublin, Bahrain and Malaysia. While technology plays an important role in the delivery of the courses Eric is involved in, the emphasis is on verbal and written communication skills and also professionalism.

As the use of technology has become embedded in the undergraduate curriculum, Eric has applied his experience to advise and contribute to a range of projects within RCSI. He has also presented his work at both national and international conferences in the areas of medical education and technology-enhanced learning.

If Eric could speak to his younger self, the advice he would give is to ask lots of questions, take very little at face value, and not to be afraid to change your mind. If something is of interest, look deeper and ask for help, as people are usually flattered when asked about what they do for a living.

Eric is a native of Dublin and is married with three children. He does not drive a car and when possible likes to go out on his bicycle and take photographs – but not at the same time.

Richard Arnett

Richard is originally from Yorkshire in the north of England and went to school in Pocklington, near York. He gained a degree in aquatic biology at Aberystwyth University in Wales before moving to University College Dublin (UCD) to complete a PhD on the diet of the grey seals that inhabit the waters off the west coast of Ireland. Following this, Richard spent a number of years teaching anatomy in the veterinary school at UCD, where he also developed an interest in the statistics associated with educational assessment and evaluation (psychometrics).

Richard joined the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in 2006 to help run Ireland’s first four-year graduate-entry medicine programme. His current role is as the Associate Director of the RCSI Quality Enhancement Office, where he is responsible for the collection and analysis of feedback from RCSI students in Ireland, Bahrain and Malaysia. Richard also teaches and consults in the area of psychometrics.

Richard has a particular interest in the way modern computing power can harness appropriate mathematical techniques to infer structure and meaning from large and complex data sets. A key step in the processing of any data set is visualisation, and the application of an appropriate technique can help to highlight areas of interest. These methodologies are generic and the importance of this work is that they can be equally applied to a range of data, from social media comments to exam results. New techniques and methodologies are being developed all the time, and Richard particularly enjoys learning something new or applying an existing methodology to a new type of data.

Richard’s advice to young people would be to do something that interests you. He says: “The modern working life spans many years, and you will have plenty of opportunities to change direction as your interests develop. Also, don’t be afraid to expand your knowledge and skills beyond your formal qualifications. If you have an interest and access to the internet, you can access courses on almost anything, from Shakespeare to quantum physics.”

Jane Burns

Originally from New York City, Jane completed a BA and a Master’s in business administration at Iona College in New York and then moved to Ireland 25 years ago. Since then she has worked as a professional librarian and completed two Master’s degrees, and is presently working on a part-time PhD in medical humanities and curriculum development at University College Dublin. Since joining the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2013, Jane has moved into the area of medical and nursing research. Her current role is Research Officer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Jane has always been interested in and passionate about information: how people find it, how they use it and the potential impact that it can have on everyone’s lives. She has also always loved books, reading and writing, so the path to librarianship and then research was a natural trajectory. What Jane enjoys most about her work is that she learns something new every day, gets to work with colleagues who are experts in their fields, and is involved with students who have lots of energy and new ideas.

Jane still enjoys reading and creative writing, and has published work in this field in addition to academic research. Her hobbies also include travelling and photography.

She says: “My advice to young people is not to feel like you have to have a defined path in life or that you should know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but to enjoy lots of different learning experiences, to try courses that are of interest or subjects that you find challenging. Be open to new possibilities, read as much as you can and talk to people inside and outside of your area of interest. If you do decide on a specific track, then get involved with your professional body – as a student it will help you develop a network and your career and you can bring energy and fresh ideas to the organisation.”