Spotlight on: Biostatisticians

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As a result of advanced technology and an aging population, public health is rapidly transforming. By 2030, the aging baby boomer population is projected to be 61 million people — all of whom will require more advanced care. Also, the emergence of big data places special emphasis on trained, highly-educated professionals to leverage analytics and advanced technology to promote healthy outcomes.

If you have a background in statistics and would like to pursue a career in public health, or earn an advanced degree that offers a foundation in biostatistics, a Master of Public Health can be paramount in your preparation.

Read on to learn how biostatistics impact public health, and how an MPH degree can provide the skills you need to solve modern health challenges.

What is the career outlook for the biostatistician field?
Biostatistics play a central role in the shaping of public policy, public health and biotech. It’s also a rewarding career path: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median salary for biostatisticians is $80,500, and, according to a 2015 survey of active biostatisticians in Fortune, 86 percent of current professionals are “highly satisfied” with their jobs.

Also, with biostatistics now a focal point of public health, the career field is projected to grow over 14 percent from 2014 to 2024 and create 15,400 new careers. This growth is driven by increasing public health needs, according to Dr. Wei Yang, online Master of Public Health professor for the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and executive director of the Nevada Center for Surveys.

“The value is the training,” said Yang. “We need people to work in public health. One of public health’s jobs is to let people know what public health is. I think this is one of our biggest challenges. We need to have public understanding and we need policy-makers who understand.”

What does a biostatistician do?
Biostatisticians aggregate data related to certain populations, analyze it and synthesize it into meaningful insights. Much of this research and study involves identifying current public health challenges and the health outcomes driven by environmental and behavioral factors.

In addition, biostatisticians also perform the following:

  • Analyze data trends to make predictions
  • Collaborate with physicians and scientists to design research studies
  • Examine clinical data and surveys through applied statistics
  • Serve as a biostatistical consultant
  • Publish ground-breaking research to academic journals
  • Biostatisticians are also critical-thinkers who, as a best practice, question their data collection methodology for accuracy and efficiency, such as asking:

  • How was this data collected?
  • Are there covert factors that could influence or skew the results of an analysis?
  • Is there vital data missing, and why?
  • When applied to public health, biostatisticians must understand how data, research, and policy intersect to promote better health for our community and world.

    This multi-disciplined, high-level approach to public health can be found in a robust education that connects data, research, and policy, like the University of Nevada, Reno’s 100% online MPH program. There, you can learn about biostatistics in the context of public health, but also health policy and epidemiology — both fundamental elements that can promote better health for our community and world.

    Primary biostatistician responsibilities
    While the responsibilities of biostatisticians may vary depending on where they find employment, in general, organizations look to them to do the following:

  • Write statistical methodology and oversee implementation
  • Train clinical staff
  • Develop means of representing results to key stakeholders
  • Offer guidance on key initiatives based on statistical insight
  • This last point is critical: Much of the job of a biostatistician is focused not just on synthesizing information, but presenting it clearly to stakeholders of all different backgrounds. This task may include fellow researchers or span internal or external projects, with a target audience of those without scientific or healthcare education. The ability to be an excellent, versatile and accessible communicator is critical.

    Biostatisticians may specialize in a certain area of study based on their educational or professional backgrounds, like pharmacy, life science, health science, or agriculture. For example, some biostatisticians may have a more epidemiological focus, while others might be most concerned with the way that genes impact certain health outcomes.

    Where are biostatisticians employed?
    One of the most prominent career pathways for biostatisticians is to work in the government sector. State and federal organizations from the Food and Drug Administration to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bureau of Labor Statistics to Health and Human Services, employ biostatisticians in crucial roles, examining population health trends and making policy recommendations to improve outcomes.

    Meanwhile, independent lobbying groups may turn to biostatisticians to provide research to back up key assertions or design a study on a particular medical phenomenon.

    In the private sector, biostatisticians may be employed by corporations to help run clinical divisions, track the prevalence of certain ailments, and measure the efficacy of treatment options as they relate to a new product.

    Overall, the public and private sector need more biostatisticians to create prevention models, which you can learn with an online MPH degree.

    “Public health is at the core of the preventive movement,” said Dr. Yang. “There is a national need for people working in public health on the most efficient way to be more preventive.”

    Join the golden era of biostatistics. Earn your MPH.
    When applied to public health, biostatisticians play a key role in improving healthy outcomes in the population at large. These professionals research solutions and provide data-driven prevention strategies to treat populations.

    And due to a worldwide increase in data across industry — IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are collected each day — our global community needs qualified, educated biostatisticians to leverage analytics that drive positive, healthy change.

    If you would like to join the golden age of biostatistics in public health, the University of Reno, Nevada’s online MPH degree can help you prepare for a fulfilling career with vast opportunity. Get more program details.