Mary K. Scheda chose to complement her biomedical sciences major with a minor in statistics to better understand and critically analyze medical research.
“The field of biomedical sciences is constantly changing, and health care professionals need to stay current as new research emerges,” said Scheda, a former emergency medical technician (EMT). “The investigator’s choice of statistics to present in a report can strongly influence the interpretation of the study as a whole, and the statistics minor helped me develop my critical thinking.”
She also developed practical application skills through solving real-life problems as part of her course homework. While she said mastering the statistical analysis program (SAS) was a challenge, it allowed her to apply her knowledge in a realistic context.
She then incorporated that knowledge into her study in UB’s accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing program.
“One of the big themes in health care is evidence-based practice,” she explained. “Nursing care plans must include a rationale for each intervention, so I am constantly reading research articles that analyze current nursing practices. Public health nursing also requires an understanding of epidemiology and statistical methods for evaluating the health of populations.”
After graduating from UB's School of Nursing in 2013, Scheda began working as a registered nurse on the inpatient hematology oncology unit at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.
"Many of my patients are participating in clinical trials, and UB's statistics minor developed my understanding of data analysis in randomized controlled trials and the real-world challenges of bias, outliers and missing or incomplete data," she said. "Strict adherence to study protocols guides my practice. Also, when my patients have questions regarding survival rates for their diagnosis, I explain that statistics are strongly influenced by characteristics of the study population and generalize the experiences of many individuals. I try to instill hope in my patients by explaining that statistics are not black and white and by guiding them to reliable sources of information."