Why We Care About Biostatistics
While the subject and significance of biostatistics works in the background for most people, it is incorporated in our lives everyday. In fact, it is a vital field in that the work biostatisticians do improves health and ultimately saves lives around the globe.
The role of a biostatistician revolves around three essential aspects: collecting, analyzing, and interpreting human health data. Ultimately, the goal of processing these data is to understand and improve human health. Oftentimes data is used from clinical trials and epidemiological traits of a particular disease. While this seems simple, the process is quite complex and accuracy is crucial. Much of this research is done for medical professionals and those working in the public health sectors of the government. Biostatisticians must know how certain factors such as drugs, diet, age, environment, gender and race affect the behavior of a disease; similarly, they study geographical patterns, development, behavior and mortality rate of said disease. Knowing this information aids in developing prevention and treatment measures. Some biostatisticians have already researched these fields, while others use the research as background information to test their own theory. Indeed, biostatisticians must decide how to set up these experiments. They then not only need to know how to mathematically calculate the data, but also be able to communicate it to other professionals in a way that is understandable and can be used to improve certain conditions. It is therefore evident that their research must be accurate because it has the potential to affect entire countries and even the world.
Biostatisticians feed their research results to government officials and medical professionals – essentially, people who manage health facilities, create health policies and make clinical decisions. They use the information as a basis of their decision-making. Notably, many health professionals are found to lack this skill and often make inaccurate calculations, even though they are supposed to know the material. Research shows that proficiency in biostatistics improves the quality of research and connects theory with practice. The resulting research will also prove common theories. For instance, most people know that cigarette smoke negatively affects lungs. Biostatistics proves this observation. Thus, it is essential for medical professionals to understand biostatistics so that it can be applied correctly.
Research done by biostatisticians aids in predicting disease behavior and opens up prevention and treatment options. With such knowledge, measures can be taken to stop the spread of disease around the world. Recently, numbers were crunched with regards to Ebola and the Zika virus. These diseases were unfamiliar, dangerous and spreading very quickly so statistics on the current situations had to be calculated for damage control and prevention. With any disease, these numbers help with isolating the disease as much as possible so that it will not become a pandemic. With that being said, if I plan on doing any medical research during my career, it is critical that I know how to use biostatistics to yield correct results. It will also help me to be more aware of epidemiology locally and globally as well as know what types of questions to ask if I was interested in doing research. I will be able to tell whether or not treatments are effective and can therefore be more efficient in working towards a solution.
With regards to PA school – where I plan on going after graduating from Rollins – it will be important for me to understand biostatistics in order to accurately interpret statistical information in the medical field. Jobs in the medical field are now looking at candidates with knowledge of biostatistics as health professionals are being pushed to focus more on research in order to broaden knowledge and practice of treatments. I also need to be able to understand clinical guidelines, advertisements, and research publications as well as explain risk to patients and interpret test results. With this knowledge, I will be a stronger candidate when applying to this job field. My understanding of biostatistics will also aid me in being a better physician in that I will understand treatments and how they affect my patients. If they are not working, then I can react and adjust accordingly to ensure that his or her condition improves.
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