Student spotlight details
Lorenz Meuli, a specialist vascular surgery registrar in Switzerland, is now a statistical advisor for the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery as a direct result of completing the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care Medical Statistics.
'I was working as a specialist registrar in vascular surgery in St. Gallen Switzerland and beside my clinical work I did peer-reviewing for the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery (EJVES). The Medical School at the University of Bern encouraged me to attend lectures in Public Health and basic medical statistics by Professor Matthias Egger, a renowned epidemiologist. This was inspiring and motivated me to link clinical work with research activities, which something I have used in my career as a physician.
'However, my first own experiences with statistics were frustrating. After having collected data for my postgraduate research degree in medicine for weeks at a time, I did not find a significant difference between the study group and the control group. Further to a posthoc power analysis which resulted in distorting the truth that the sample size was too small to reasonably detect a difference, if indeed there was one. I learned that the absence of proof of a difference is not equal to proof of an absence of such a difference. One familiar with statistics could have anticipated this even before starting collecting data. This was at first frustrating, but after all, the main advance during this project was a rise in awareness of statistical problems and its importance.
'Therefore, I was looking for a structured postgraduate training in evidence-based medicine and medical statistics in particular. The possibility to pursue a high-quality master’s course at the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine alongside my clinical work was fascinating and tempting. The flexible nature of the MSc in EBHC Medical Statistics allows participants to individually set the exposure to new topics by scheduling the modules as desired. One can easily speed up by taking modules back-to-back or take the time as problems occur.
'Meeting interesting people from different fields and from all over the world during the “Oxford-weeks” was a pleasure. I made some really good friends among my fellow students and we tried to synchronize our schedules for the modules. The teaching quality of the modules was impressive. There was an excellent mix of speeches, interactive lessons practical sessions and of course coffee breaks to pursue discussions. For me, the most challenging part was to finish the dissertation project, as it took me much more time than initially expected. I was working full-time as a specialist registrar in vascular surgery at that time and spent hours on my clinical duties. To stick with this project and make progress was very demanding.
'I am still working as a registrar in vascular surgery in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Together with my team in St. Gallen we try to improve the health care we provide and this in turn improves the national registry for vascular surgery (SwissVasc). Our daily routine is reflected by this registry, validation of the data will help us to further improve the healthcare we provide. I am looking forward to further strengthen my knowledge in medical statistics beside my clinical work and use the skills gained from the MSc.
'The knowledge and skills that I obtained from this course have helped me to become a statistical advisor for the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. My role is to increase the quality of published work by providing inputs on analysis and reporting of studies that are published in the field of vascular medicine. I have also become an Instructor for the Global School of Empirical Research Methods at the University of St. Gallen. The way that I was taught and the course content has helped me create an introductory course in biostatistics.
'I can highly recommend the MSc in EBHC Medical Statistics to anyone working in healthcare, who is interested in evidence-based medicine, public health or medical statistics in general. Each module of the course can also be attended as stand-alone course, this might be interesting for people who are looking for a basic introduction to the field.'