What does a M.Sc. programme in Statistics with Medical Applications entail?

There are many roles in the private sector for medical statisticians.   | Photo Credit: Freepik

One thing that the pandemic has demonstrated is the importance of quality medical statistics. This has been, and will remain, key to ensuring that those tasked with optimising healthcare outcomes can make informed decisions for individual patients and across populations.

In some ways, we have all become medical statisticians recently, as we have monitored global rates of COVID-19 transmission, and case numbers in our communities. The results from observation studies, modelling projects, and trials of vaccines and other treatments have made headlines that many of us have digested daily.

But, behind the headlines are countless complex data sets that can only be untangled by specialists with the right training, skills and experience. An M.Sc. programme in Statistics with Medical Applications offers a way for talented graduates to progress from amateur analysis to a long-term career as a medical statistician.

Eligibility: Typically, it is open to graduates with a strong background in Maths, or students who have successfully completed an alternative course in higher education, such as a Graduate Certificate in Statistics.

Part-time study opportunities are available to those who already deal with statistics as part of their job, and want to take their knowledge and skills to the next level.

Course: As the title suggests, the content is focussed on the applied side of statistics. Students complete a comprehensive training programme that is designed to cover the tools, techniques and software they can expect to use in the real world as a professional medical statistician.

The course is usually delivered through a combination of lectures and practical sessions, which are complemented by individual and group assignments. Students are assessed through a combination of written examinations and coursework.

The course also includes a major independent research project, where each student will work on answering an applied medical research question, and submit a thesis.

Career opportunities: There are those who go on to work in publicly funded research settings, such as a clinical trials research unit at a university or research institute. Some work with policymakers to develop public health interventions that affect whole communities or populations.

There are many roles in the private sector for medical statisticians; for example, working at pharmaceutical companies to assess new drug candidates. Medical statisticians can also continue their studies with a Ph.D., either straight after their masters course or later in their careers.

The skills and knowledge students get are highly transferable, so they can be applied to many other roles that need problem solvers who are confident with data. Many graduates also move from industry on to a PhD over to a regulatory body and then back into industry — always anchored by the skills they first developed during their M.Sc.

The writer is a Professor of Medical Statistics, University of Sheffield, the U.K.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 11:15:03 AM |

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