Statistics and Stress in Medicos sample essay
There is a lot of anxiety among medical practitioners, both senior and junior concerning certain topics like statistics and epidemiology. The anxiety in some situations becomes quite acute causing stress to themselves as well as their students. Good research draws on statistics to prove certain findings and to establish associations. However statistics is definitely not everything in research. Identifying a topic of research, writing up the objectives, planning the right design, coming up with a water tight methodology, estimating an adequate sample; all these are equally important. Even as judging of studies in conferences goes, most experts are carried away by some fancy statistical methods used rather than other criteria. Unfortunately our current medical society is captivated by statistics in a love hate relationship, with a significant overlay of fear of the subject. This fear is being passed on to the new generation. Let us face the facts. Statistics is a subject associated with mathematics.
Most degree courses in universities combine statistics with math. Biostatistics is one field where we have borrowed some principles of statistics to assist in our medical research for the common good of the society. Just like there are surgically inclined and non surgical people in our medical fraternity, there are those who are statistically inclined and those who are not. Some of our medical people have taken to statistics well and kudos to them. We depend on them to unravel a few of the mysteries of this predominantly mathematical subject to us; just enough maybe to help us do our research well and come up with scientific inferences. We can continue to draw more and more complicated statistical precepts into our medical field. But at what cost? After a post graduate subject like General Medicine, many doctors feel the need to specialize in a particular sub specialty like nephrology, cardio, gastro etc.
In the current age, due to rapid advancements in technology and newer knowledge, there is much to learn in each sub specialty and now we are seeing higher and finer specializations. One would not expect a general medicine specialist to have a nephrologists’ knowledge or diagnostic skills and also an endocrinologist’s knowledge. Similarly after an MD in Community Medicine we cannot expect one to have full knowledge in all the subspecialties for example epidemiology, nutrition, health economics, project evaluation etc. Trying to do that would cause a lot of stress and anxiety. However it is desirable to get a good working knowledge of each. This will also help one to decide what subspecialty they would like to take up in the future.
There are user friendly statistical packages; Epi Info, SPSS etc. which can help us analyse our data quickly and efficiently. We do need to know some of the simple applications of these packages as it would make our research work very easy. The techniques are simple but need a practical work shop (hands on) approach. I am sure that we can identify resources within our group to help familiarize ourselves with these valuable skills. In conclusion I would like to say that we should stop being fearful of statistics.
If I want to travel to a certain city by train, I need to know certain things like which train to catch and how much it would cost and how to get to the station in time. It would be redundant for me to know how to engineer the train to that city. There is an engine driver for that and he is well trained to do just that. The statisticians in our departments are also there to help us. If they are not good enough, it would be appropriate to help them get the required skills. However it is not fitting for us to give too much importance to one topic like statistics at the cost of other perhaps more important fields. We must also keep in mind the younger members in our field who may needlessly develop a phobia for epidemiology and statistics which will then handicap their future.
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