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Nicholas Nyaaba shares his experience, having recently completed his dissertation on the MSc in EBHC Medical Statistics.

#### The Ideal Medical Statistics Programme for Healthcare Professionals

Two things, that are rapidly increasing exponentially, are data and research evidence. No matter what your beliefs are about evidence-based healthcare, these two are influencing your health decision making, every day. Understanding statistics is key to using data and research evidence. But even, for many healthcare workers, who are interested in studying statistics, it can still be very challenging.  But thanks to the team at Oxford University this narrative is changing and a new group of healthcare professionals, like me, can now specialise in medical statistics. I am a Registered General Nurse and I have just completed this programme.

The MSc in EBHC Medical Statistics is unique in many ways. First, the approach to teaching statistics based modules focuses on simple, practical interpretations and real-world application of statistical tools to solving clinical problems. This is a drastic shift, from the traditional approach to teaching medical statistics to healthcare professionals, which overemphasizes mathematical theory and complicated formulae. Secondly, it combines the principles of evidence-based healthcare with medical statistics. This has provided me with the proper use and interpretation of statistics in healthcare, fully conscious of bias and uncertainty, and drawing cautious conclusions. Thirdly, the entire course is flexible, in the way that it is part-time, to fit the busy schedule of most healthcare workers, and also, it offers a variety of combinations of modules. I took the meta-analyses, statistical computing, big data epidemiology, and systematic reviews modules, in addition to the compulsory modules because those are of utmost interest to me.

The learning experience in this Masters is rich and provides a unique opportunity in terms of exposure and resources

As a student on the programme, you are matriculated and have full access to the vast resources and opportunities offered by the University of Oxford. By the way, life in Oxford is a surreal fantasy - one of a kind. And even though, the Oxford weeks were intense, there were always enough time for us to have drinks, dinners, or tours as a class. I had an exciting time taking part in several amazing activities on campus- from Kellogg College, the Oxford Africa Society, the Africa Oxford Initiative, Oxford University Ghana Society, and the University Catholic Chaplaincy.

It is rare to find a medical statistics programme like this, that is relevant and tailored to the specific needs of healthcare professionals. The learning experience in this Masters is rich and provides a unique opportunity in terms of exposure and resources. I have been fortunate to share this experience with healthcare workers from different professions and countries. If I had one wish, it will be to see more African based healthcare practitioners get involved in learning and sharing their invaluable experiences in this space.

Life in Oxford is a surreal fantasy - one of a kind

Now, I am due to pick up new roles that emphasize the use of research evidence and improve the numeric literacy of healthcare workers in Ghana. I am also becoming more interested in how the evidence-based healthcare ecosystem is evolving and increasingly becoming complex especially in the African context, and I am looking forward to doing more work in that regard.

Disclosure and Disclaimer

I have completed the MSc in EBHC Medical Statistics. I am a Registered General Nurse based in Ghana, where I work with the Ghana Armed Forces Medical Services. My MSc was sponsored by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ghana Armed Forces Medical Services or the Ghana Education Trust Fund.

Acknowledgment

I am deeply grateful to the Ghana Education Trust Fund for sponsoring the MSc, and the Ghana Armed Forces Medical Services for giving me time off to study part-time. I want to acknowledge Dr. Jenifer Hirst and Dr. Jose Ordonez-Mena for just being amazing people and challenging me in many ways. A special thank you to Prof Richard Stevens for indulging and keeping an interest in me.