All BCTIP new hires are required to participate in 6 weeks of training led by BERD staff (see Training Sessions below).
Interns undergo 12-18 months of real collaborative experience that includes working directly with staff/faulty biostatisticians and clinicians within different clinical research units at Duke. Through real-world applied experience in these research units, interns are involved in every aspect of the research process including initial meetings with investigators, study design, analysis, writing statistical reports, and manuscript review. Each fall, the interns are required to give a 20-minute presentation of their work to B&B faculty/staff and their clinical investigators are invited.
Throughout the program, BCTIP directors closely monitor internship collaborations to ensure all students and supervisors understand expectations and provide appropriate mentorship. In addition to statistical development, BCTIP directors provide the following mentorship and monitoring:
- When requested by interns, BCTIP directors provide guidance on topics including resume creation, interview preparation, interpersonal relationships, etc.
- Interns are required to submit weekly task lists to their supervisors, and a monthly progress report to the BCTIP directors, who review the content and provide feedback or intervene as needed.
- Quarterly meetings are arranged to provide the interns with a face-to-face opportunity to share their internship experience and concerns with their fellow interns and the BCTIP directors.
The two-hour session introduces the internship program and the BERD Methods Core to the new hires. Interns are informed with their primary responsibilities, expectations, and requirements, as well as the technical support and statistical resources available at BERD. BCTIP coordinators also stay after the presentation to answer questions, help with computer set up, etc.
The one-hour session covers topics on collaboration and communication commonly seen in the Duke collaborative research setting, such as collaboration vs. consultation, the BERD Methods Core collaborative model, professional communication (written and verbal), Rindskopf’s and Grambow’s rules of communication, strategies for dealing with mistakes.
As a biostatistician, good project management skills are vital in order to achieve data transparency, traceability, and reproducibility. The one-hour session covers two main parts of project management: SAP and file organization/documentation. The purpose and process of writing a statistical analysis plan (SAP) are elaborated with templates and examples. Readme files, efficient ways of file organization and naming files are introduced with examples.
R and SAS software are introduced in a total of eight sessions. Each software is introduced at a basic level first and then extended to a more advanced level, followed by a homework review session. The sessions cover various contents from frequently used commands/procedures, efficient coding skills, tables and plots to functions/macros.
In addition to the SAP, the importance and process of writing analysis reports and statistical sections in manuscripts are introduced in the one-hour session. Components of reporting at the Core, reporting standards and guidelines for scientific journals are addressed with examples, followed by a short team practice and discussion.
The session focuses on essential working skills such as professional dress, interviews, meetings, and verbal and written communication. It illustrates the BCTIP intern expectations and soft skills important in biostatistics including time management, networking, teamwork, creative thinking, and conflict resolution.