Informational Interview with Manager, Non-profit Health Services Research
1. Describe the type of work that you do.
Our organization holds a vast array of health and health related data which are used to evaluate health care delivery and outcomes. The department that I manage is primarily responsible for creating research-ready SAS datasets, performing and documenting data quality analyses and developing tools (primarily SAS based tools, including Macros) to facilitate and standardize data use across the organization. Once these data have been prepared in SAS for research use, Analysts and Epidemiologists in a different department will further clean, manipulate and analyze these data, which are ultimately used in health services research.
2. Are you aware of any educational institutes in Toronto offering courses in health services research?
The most relevant courses to an Analyst, Analytical Epidemiologist or Methodologist in our organization would be courses in Mathematics, Statistics, Epidemiology, Public Health, Biostatistics and Health Informatics. Within Toronto, the University of Toronto would be the most common choice for formal education in these areas. Other recommended schools outside of Toronto would be Universities which also have medical schools such as McMaster, Queens, Ottawa and Western, as they have a greater health science focus and lots of expertise in the area of health services research.
3. What software do you use?
4. How are the job prospects for job seekers without (Canadian) experience?
Any candidate who meets the knowledge, skills and abilities desired for a given role has an equal opportunity for positions within our organization. Canadian work experience or Canadian education is obviously beneficial though. Job seekers without Canadian experience also need to ensure their technical skills are complimented by strong communication skills.
5. How often do you hire analysts with no prior experience?
We do sometimes hire analysts without full-time work experience, but typically those folks are recent Master's graduates and have at least some form of co-op/practicum or other part-time/short term experience working with and analyzing data on a project outside of regular coursework.
6. What education is required? (Master? PhD?)
Master’s level education is typically a requirement for Data Analyst/Epidemiologist positions and above. A bachelor’s degree combined with a number of years of directly relevant experience is sometimes taken into consideration.
7. What advice do you have for those without experience (student, immigrant, career-changer)?
8. How important is it to have the SAS certificates? Do you recommend getting the advanced or clinical SAS programming certificate on top of SAS base certificate?
We never place a ton of importance on the SAS certificate and I would say the SAS certificate is really only useful for someone who does not have any or very little work experience. When we see a candidate with two or more years of hands-on full-time work experience with SAS we typically don't concern ourselves if they have a SAS certificate or not. I'm not too familiar with the clinical trials certificate but if I had to recommend one I would say the advanced certificate would be a better option as it's more applicable to all industries and would keep more doors open for you.
9. What recruitment agency do you recommend?
I have not worked with enough recruitment agencies to make a recommendation.
10. What course(s) do you recommend taking to prepare?
For a Data Analyst or Analytical Epidemiologist type position in the health care/health services research industry I would recommend considering courses in the following areas while completing your diploma/degree(s)
11. Is an MBA preferred?
Very few people hold MBAs at our organization (and few if any Analysts do). A master’s degree in one of the aforementioned areas is more beneficial for this type of work in our industry.