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Career Story: Research Analyst For A State Health Department

Research Analyst For A State Health Department

Job Title: Research Analyst

Type of Company: I work for the Department of Public Health. In my bureau, the main purpose is to collect and provide statistics on injuries, deaths, assaults in this state.

Education: BA College of the Holy Cross •• MA Boston College •• JD Boston College

Previous Experience: Right after college, I starting working for the State as a researcher. I have had three similar jobs since then,

Job Tasks: My main responsibility is to analyze the data we receive from the State office of vital records and other State data collection offices. We also collect and use data our research assistants gather from all State hospitals on violent injured. The data we receive is all persons who have died from an injury or have been injured in anyway. We collect and use injury data to show that all injuries are avoidable or they can be avoidable with the right intervention.

On most days, I am either providing quality assurance on some data one of my colleagues has run, I am running data myself. We then use the data to write reports which we send out to hundreds of providers across our State. The hope is that these providers can come to an understanding as to how they can provide services to their communities that best reflects what the data show is the real problem. For example, if we show that in Boston there were 200 suicides in any particular year, and that the greater majority of them were white males over 60 years old, then the provider knows it needs to gear programs designed to prevent suicide within that group.

Often, we respond to calls for data from outside agencies or individual people. Someone may want to know how many people between the ages of 20 - 60 were bitten by a dog in 2007. We can provide that data. I would simply access our database on the computer using a statistical program and write then run a program which will spit out that data. I would them email the results to the person who wanted the data.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is being able to access so much data. I like that I can have the liberty to analyze anything that I feel is interesting. I also love writing programs in SPSS (a statistical program). I even love when there are errors in my program. Then I really use my research skills as I try to get my program to run. I also love being able to travel around the State going to trainings or seminars. The worst part of my job is that in order to provide the information, I have to analyze hundreds of suicides, homicides, and other injuries. It is very sad to know that most of what I do has to do with death.

Job Tips:
1. Starting in your freshman year, you have to take at least one course in Sociology. Follow that each year. Included in that program will be courses on data collection, and methods (how statistics are calculated).

2. College level math skills are also a must - at least two years. You must also know how to manipulate the computer. You must know Excel, Word, and at least two statistical languages like SPSS or SAS.

3. This job requires a lot of writing so taking four years of English would be a good thing.

4. You must also have people skills so if you are the shy type, a course in public speaking would help.

Additional Thoughts: This job requires a great deal of independence. You have to focus on the job at hand and be able to run the data efficiently. You must be able to edit your own work as well as the work of others. You have to have really good writing and people skills.

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