Online Program

A Biostatistician’s Experience as a Statistical Consulting Intern
Mary Helen Black, Kaiser Permanente Southern California 
*Ge Wen, Keck School of Medicine, USC 

Keywords: biostatistics, statistical consulting, internship

In a health research setting such as Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC), it is necessary for consultants to provide guidance to epidemiologists and physicians when developing their IRB protocols and grant applications. In the design phase of a research project, consulting may include advisement on study design, conduct of preliminary feasibility, estimation of power/sample size, and development of a statistical analysis plan. Once the study is approved and data is collected, consultation involves statistical analysis, interpretation of results, and scientific writing. Appropriate training, such as that provided by KPSC’s internship program, is essential for success as a statistical consultant.

As an intern, I obtained hands-on consulting experience with real projects of relatively modest scope, under the supervision of an experienced statistical consultant through a 12-week internship program at KPSC. I learned to follow the guidelines for consulting practices and applied them to real projects. The detailed work done will be described case by case. A summary of what was learned as well as helpful tips for interacting with other researchers will be presented.