Participants Discuss Their Experience in Essentials of Biostatistics with SAS JMP®

PHX Perspectives | September 17th, 2019

This summer, public health professionals participated in the 2019 program, Essentials of Biostatistics with SAS JMP® with Boston University School of Public Health Professor Lisa Sullivan. Over 8 weeks, participants learned how to compute and interpret descriptive and inferential statistics using SAS JMP®. Participants received graded feedback on their work and by the end of the course earned a credential and BU digital badge acknowledging their hard work. You don’t just have to take it from us, we asked two participants, Shirin and Jennifer, to tell us about their experience in the program.


Describe your experience taking the online Essentials of Biostatistics with SAS JMP® program. 

  • Shirin: It was a wonderful program for me and it was exactly a match for what I needed. I was able to learn a summary of biostatistical methods and how to choose the right method. I was also able to start learning how to use JMP®. It is very user friendly and much easier than other statistical software that I had been exposed to before.
  • Jennifer: My experience taking the program has been an all-round positive one. I enrolled to both gain a refresher in basic statistics and to expand my knowledge to more advanced topics. This course met both of those needs. The projects were straightforward and allowed me to practice both hand calculations and the software. Not only did I develop a more concrete understanding of the mathematics, but also the application and interpretation of the results. Dr. Sullivan’s videos and lectures were easy to understand and paced nicely. She was quick to respond to any questions and provided helpful clarifications and feedback on the assignments.

What did you enjoy most about the program?

  • Shirin: The video recording for each topic. Dr. Sullivan spoke very clearly and slowly in each video. My goal of doing this course was to learn how to do the simple statistical analysis by a software, but I learned much more than that. The lessons that were provided for each topic, were extremely valuable and a wonderful overview of biostatistics.
  • Jennifer: I enjoyed the self-paced style of the course, which I found extremely convenient as a working professional. I also enjoyed how the course taught us to look at the problems and results from quantitative and real world perspectives. The progression of the material was nicely laid out and provided me with a good foundation for more difficult statistical analysis in later lectures.

How will you apply what you learned to your current role?

  • Shirin: I have several data sets that have been growing over the course of the past several years. I am interested to publish my data. However, considering the tight budget and research funding in academic centers, I could not hire a statistician.
  • Jennifer: I plan to apply what I’ve learned in this course to both my work with my PIs and my own analyses. I believe this course will allow me to take on a more active role in developing my lab’s statistical plan and analyzing the results. I additionally hope to conduct secondary analyses of my lab’s research data and publish my findings.

How did this program impact your professional development goals/future career?

  • Jennifer: As a research assistant interested in pursuing a doctorate degree in clinical psychology, the course provided me with an improved knowledge of the method and application of statistics in a public health setting. Given the importance of public health decisions based on data, it is important to hone my skills in assessing the quality and significance of analyses. I feel more confident in my ability to understand the statistical method behind my projects and, more importantly, feel I can explain it to others.

Would you recommend this or other PHX programs to colleagues?

  • Shirin: I certainly recommend this course to any individual who is interested in clinical research and data management.
  • Jennifer: I’d recommend this course to anyone in the health field from beginners to those looking to fine tune their skills in statistics.

Final Comments:

  • Shirin: I want to thank the School of Public Health for this wonderful opportunity. I not only enjoyed working on the course, but also learned a lot. I have taken a few other statistical courses in the past, but this course was very practical.
  • Jennifer: I wanted to reiterate how helpful this course has been for my professional development, and how much I have benefited from the feedback. I am presenting a poster in October at AACAP’s 66th annual conference and I feel more confident in my explanation and understanding of the statistical method.

The PHX Perspectives blog is a platform that creates an opportunity to share public health stories and viewpoints. Anyone interested in submitting a piece, which should be 600-800 words long, should contact Population Health Exchange reserves the right to reject or edit submissions. The views expressed are solely those of the author and are not intended to represent the views of Population Health Exchange or Boston University School of Public Health.