Testimonials for PHDA program

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Certificate students speak about their course experiences.

Overall program experience

"Allowing students to gain hands on experience remotely with software packages such as ArcMap, SAS, and Mplus while having the flexibility to work full time is invaluable. Also having the opportunity to use Population Data BC’s administrative data with these packages offered a type of learning experience that I could not have had anywhere else." > read full testimonial
Adele Balram, Data Analyst, New Brunswick Institute for Research and Data Training

 

"I would definitely recommend colleagues and others to take this program for further professional development.

The strengths of this program include: good organization of coursework, exposure to variety of relevant topics, hands-on experience using several analytical software, excellent support and feedback by instructors, and a flexible schedule." > read full testimonial
Lily Zhou, Senior Researcher

 

"I would definitely recommend this program to my colleagues or others who would like to develop analytical skills and knowledge in data analysis and the use of health data.

I benefited by having an access to various analytic tools and different types/sources of health administrative data. They included a good balance of practice and theory.  I did not find these kinds of courses were available to me when I was at University.  In addition, I had very practical hands-on practice using statistical analytic tools such as SAS or ArcGIS which are not freely available for public use." > read full testimonial
Youn Choi, Senior Researcher

 

"I enjoyed all the courses. In particular, I found the GIS course very interesting and fun as I had never worked in this subject area before. I also benefitted from learning new SAS skills in other PHDA courses. Prior to taking the program, I had no knowledge of SAS.

The instructors were all very knowledgeable and experienced.  They really supported students through engaging conversations and encouragement for our work assignments. The PHDA courses catered to both beginner students as well as those with experience in the field. Instructors were always willing to provide extra resources and support – the courses were never boring!" > read full testimonial
Navdeep Sandhu, Research Assistant, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

 

"I feel this is a very unique program that combines the use of data analytics, statistical software and focused learning objectives related to the field of health. I also appreciated the fact that it was a fully online program with well-organized lectures, readings and remotely accessed lab work in health data analytics.

Overall the program was very helpful to my knowledge and skill development in the field of healthcare analytics.  The program exceeded my expectations particularly because of the remotely accessed data analytic lab work that was more challenging than I anticipated. This work was very practical and very much oriented to real life case examples. The calibre of students in my courses was also very high as most were working professionals who brought valuable experience and knowledge to the discussion forums and project work. " > read full testimonial
Alexey Skiba, Data Analyst, College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia

 

"One of the greatest strengths of the program is the access to the Secure Research Training Lab. It holds practical, well written, easy to follow lab activities in data analytics and a very used de-identified BC Heath Dataset as well as other health related training datasets for applied learning. This provided an excellent learning environment for professional development training in data analytics." > read full testimonial
Nino Sampson, Strategy Analyst, BC Ministry of Health

 

"The Secure Research Training Lab (SRTL) was the best. It was a bit complicated to start with for the first time, but I quickly got used to logging on and working in the environment. It’s well worth the effort to be able to do hands-on work with data, with peer and instructor support, and very good technical support (the few times I needed it).

Another strength of the program is being able to work with motivated and knowledgeable peers, learn from one another through well-moderated forum discussions and collaboration. Having dedicated and clear instructors who are patient with distance ed/online format was also a major advantage. Although you are only required to take four courses to achieve the certificate, I took all six courses available.  I felt all courses were very positive experiences for me, with top notch students and teachers who were very engaged and supportive." > read full testimonial
Sophy Zhang, MPH, Program Administrative Coordinator, Canadian Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

 

"I found a strength of the program to be the engagement of the other students, who are usually all from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of experience with the content. It was helpful  to learn from each other. The workload was also quite manageable for those who are working full-time in addition to the courses. The teachers also all seemed knowledgeable and passionate about the topics, and were willing to help students answer their questions or provide assistance for the course projects." > read full testimonial
Sarah Costa, Health Economist, Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control, BC Cancer Agency

 

"I would highly recommend this program to anyone wishing to gain a strong foundation in GIS and data, even those individuals not directly involved in the population health field. All of the courses force the student to think critically, develop time management skills, become effective data organizers, and learn to work in a virtual team towards a common goal within very tight parameters. I found all staff related to the various components of the program very knowledgeable and considerate." > read full testimonial
Wendy de Gomez, Capital Planning Analyst, Waterloo Catholic District School Board

 

"The program has given me valuable skills and practice in a variety of statistical software. The PHDA program team including professors, IT and admin staff were all very helpful and a very supportive part of my program experience. I also enjoyed studying with fellow colleagues who had a broad range of work and research skills. The calibre of student in all my PHDA courses was very impressive and many were very willing to share their knowledge and analytic expertise. For this reason I really benefited from the partner and group work in many of the courses. Although the online format of the courses came with some weakness (as you don’t get to connect with people in person), I really appreciated how the asynchronous delivery provided flexibility to work and take courses at the same time." > read full testimonial
Jennifer McConnell, MHHS, Doctoral Candidate, Social Dimensions of Health, University of Victoria

 

"The skills learned in this programme are highly and directly relevant to my doctoral research, and are being used on a near-daily basis. For example, I use both SAS and GIS to analyse various administrative data sets, and have found that the statistical background gleaned from this programmes has enabled me to read more critically and use more sophisticated analyses in my own work.

The diversity of courses is an immediate strength, as is the online format. Every instructor was highly engaged and enthusiastic, and was happy to have discussions about course material and further topics via e-mail." > read full testimonial
Blake Walker, PhD Candidate

 

"It was really good for me to gain more experience working with large data sets and use a secure research environment to get used to the complexities of various kinds of datasets we come across daily. The spatial data and network analysis work, applied longitudinal analysis techniques and foundational SAS skills I learned really benefitted my research work. Now when I am faced with new problems, I feel better equipped and much more confident to handle them.

I have done some online courses before. I felt the courses in this program were well organized. The labs were very useful and very applied, instructors were always available to answer questions and the weekly or biweekly course modules provided structure but also some flexibility."  > read full testimonial
Gina Martin, Research Associate, Centre for Addictions Research of BC

 

"I would recommend the program to working professionals, researchers, and graduate students.

The program had many strengths including: excellent, experienced instructors for each of the courses; use of fellow students as peers to give feedback on assignments (this was a particular strength of the PHDA06 course in Health Evaluation and Program Monitoring); and discussion forums that promoted exchange of information amongst students using real life examples"  > read full testimonial
Johnathan Lambo, Public Health Physician and Medical Epidemiologist
 

"I would recommend this program to anyone working in the public health field that is handling or interpreting data and looking to update or acquire new skills. The courses were of high quality, good value and appropriate for anyone at the introductory or intermediate level.

For a program that is delivered completely online, each course was organized and delivered very well. Most of the instructors were very quick with their replies to questions from students. All of the courses used practical examples to explain the material which I found really helpful for understanding how to apply the concepts in practice. Even though the courses required a bit more work and time commitment than I initially planned for, I felt each of them challenged me and taught me new concepts and skills that I can take away and use immediately in my work." > read full testimonial
Jenn Dixon, Research Associate in the field of Population and Public Health

 

"I would recommend this program to others, especially those I work with. The courses are great for professional development if individuals want to acquire new skills or keep their current skills up to date."
Louis Wong, Epidemiologist


Working with Administrative Data (PHDA 01)

The Working with Administrative Data was one of the courses that provided me with the greatest benefits. As I was completing the PHDA 01 course, my workplace, the New Brunswick Institute for Research Data and Training, was just receiving its first health data set.   Having had the opportunity to use BC’s administrative datasets such as the Discharge Abstract Database (DAD) provided me with a first glance at what our provincial data would look like, and how I could manipulate and analyze them. > read full testimonial
Adele Balram, Data Analyst, New Brunswick Institute for Research and Data Training

 

"The course was well structured. Through the course, I learned: a formal approach to developing, structuring and answering a research question using administrative data; how to clearly define the study population; how to develop a flow chart to illustrate, and guide, the development of an analytical dataset; and SAS skills. It was an excellent course and a good refresher for me, as it has been 5 years since I’ve done data analysis. A number of course assignments required me to pair with a fellow student and undergo peer review of one another’s code. It was interesting to see how my peer structured their code to produce their dataset. I enjoyed and learned a lot from this exchange. The flexibility of distance learning meant that it was possible to complete work at my own pace and schedule. It was also helpful to learn from students in different locations, who worked in related fields but had different strengths, skills and perspectives.

Finally, this course gave me experience working with administrative datasets and tools that can be difficult to access on the job. The opportunity to work with samples of real data exposed me to some of the challenges I could face at work in learning, cleaning, formatting and analyzing the data.  I would highly recommend this course and the PHDA program to my colleagues. It’s a well-structured and organized program and provides a good theoretical and practical approach to population health data analysis."
Esther Parker, Senior Policy Analyst, BC Ministry of Health

 

"The Working with Administrative Data course covered a wide range of topics from ethical and privacy issues encountered when using administrative data for research to data management of complex datasets. The instructors ensured all students were able to do the assignments using SAS. Their support has helped me build skills that I now often use at work. The training datasets were also useful in building applied skills when using administrative data to answer research questions. I would recommend this course for anyone who is working in population and public health and uses administrative data in their job."
Gina Martin, Research Associate, Centre for Addictions Research of BC

 

"Although I have experience in the area of Population Health, I had no formal training working with layered data sets. The Working with Administrative Data course was good as it included making a data dictionary and use of admin data. One of my ongoing projects at work involves assessing trends in surgery wait times for lung cancer patients. This work involved analysis of local data as a pilot project looking for trends in regional variations; I used techniques learned in PHDA 01 to facilitate this analysis.  I am happy that I took PHDA 01 before PHDA 02 as I didn’t have strong SAS skills and PHDA 01 includes an introduction to SAS skills from the very beginning." > read full testimonial
Brent Parker, Population & Radiation Oncology Research Coordinator, BC Cancer Agency


Epidemiological Statistics (PHDA 02)

"The Epidemiological Statistics course includes a range of topics from calculating relative risk to meta-analysis. The instructor took the time to ensure all students were able to do the assignments and the course readings included useful references. I would recommend this course for anyone who is working in population and public health and uses epidemiological methods in their employment"
Gina Martin, Research Associate, Centre for Addictions Research of BC

 

"Epidemiological Statistics was a great refresher for advanced statistics using sample data sets and applied examples. It was a very useful and informative course."
Jenn Dixon, Research Associate in the field of Population and Public Health


Population Health and GIS (PHDA 03)

"The courses that provided me the greatest benefit included the Population Health and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection.

Using the GIS and SAS skills that I learned from the PHDA program, I was able to create a Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) layer using GIS software, which showed peak greenness for the entire country over a ten-year period. Using this data and other administrative databases a team of researchers led by Dr. Dan Crouse and myself, conducted a research study that looked at how living by residential greenspace can impact longevity." > read full testimonial
Adele Balram, Data Analyst, New Brunswick Institute for Research and Data Training

 

"Overall, the PHDA 03 course experience was great. The greatest benefit to me was learning about GIS and practicing the learning through lab assignments with ArcGIS." > read full testimonial
Youn Choi, Senior Analyst

 

"I plan to undertake some mapping of hotspots where illicit drug use is most  common. For my interests at this time, I found the longitudinal data analysis course (PHDA 05) and geocoding skills in (PHDA 03) were the most helpful.  This is because with increasing use of multiple drugs it is important to determine where outbreaks occur and be able to establish cohorts of people who use these substances and then follow over time determining predictors of change." > read full testimonial
Lucinda Burns, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales

 

"I enjoyed all the courses. In particular, I found the Population Health and GIS (PHDA 03) course very interesting and fun as I had never worked in this subject area before. The instructor and course content provided step by step directions and good support."
Navdeep Sandhu, Research Assistant, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

 

"The GIS courses, PHDA 03 Population Health and GIS and PHDA 04 Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection provided the greatest benefits. They were excellent and introduced brand new skills for me. Prior to taking these courses I had some brief exposure to GIS within my Master’s program and through the free online PopData courses. The PHDA 03 and PHDA 04 course labs were very detailed and instructional, offering good balance between theory and practice. The courses generally had enough materials I could take away to continue working independently."
Sophy Zhang, Program Administrative Coordinator, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

 

"I took the PHDA 03 course to update my data analysis and GIS skills so that I could apply them to my current position as senior policy analyst in environmental health. I have a number of years of policy analysis experience, which I felt would be complemented by focused studies on the application of data analysis and GIS to population and public health policy questions. The course provided a comprehensive overview of how GIS can be used to investigate various population and public health questions including: mapping administrative data; use of spatial targeting, tailoring and generating to inform health policy development; estimating access to health care services; chronic and communicable disease surveillance; and environmental health and exposure assessment. The flexibility of distance learning meant that it was possible to complete work at my own pace and schedule. It was also helpful to learn from students in different locations, who worked in related fields but had different strengths, skills and perspectives.

I would highly recommend this course and the PHDA program to my colleagues. It’s a well-structured and organized program and provides a good theoretical and practical approach to population health data analysis."
Esther Parker, Senior Policy Analyst, BC Ministry of Health

 

"The Population Health and GIS (PHDA 03) course was the most interesting course I took. The labs were easy to follow and I enjoyed the final project."
Jackson Flagg, Evaluation Lead > read full testimonial

 

"The PHDA 03 course involved a lot of work, but was structured in a way that it was easy to work through each module. The instructor provided step by step instructions for each module about how to use ArcGIS. By the end of the course, I went from someone with zero experience in GIS to someone who can understand how to interpret maps, basic tools in ArcGIS, and how to apply GIS to public health issues."
Jenn Dixon, Research Associate in the field of Population and Public Health

 

"This course is a rich and nuanced exploration of the interplay of spatial associations between population health and exposure to multiple risk factors including pathogen/toxin load, socio-economic influences and ‘built environment’ indices. Well-paced and supported ‘labs’ move from mapping skills and associated ethics to the use of spatial statistics in assessing distribution in population health. Required readings are current and wide-ranging. The final project provides a wonderful opportunity to use acquired tools to explore in depth a personal research project of interest.

I highly recommend this course to all in population health – from analysts and city planners to physicians and veterinarians. The power of GIS to put “place” into the population health equation is a powerful tool. This course illuminates this exceptionally."
C. Rymes D.V.M., M.Sc., Amycus Environmental Inc

 

"The growing importance of spatial thinking in health policy and epidemiology underscores the immense value of this course for researchers and practitioners alike. As a frequent user of GIS, I found this course to be an indispensable update to both my technical skills and theoretical understanding of health geography and spatial data analysis.

The course material challenged us to think creatively and conduct our own projects with the support of the instructor, while the weekly lab assignments guided us closely through the necessary procedures. Weekly discussions encourage us to discuss issues and themes in health GIS and share ideas, an invaluable experience for learning and networking."
Blake Byron Walker, PhD student, Geography

 

"The PHDA 03 Population and GIS course provided me with a skill set that I would have had difficulty learning on my own. I was able to apply training from this course and the Epidemiological Statistics course (PHDA 02) to some of my current work that is assessing how we can improve quality of life related follow-up for British Columbian cancer patients after they have received their treatment. We were interested in seeing how follow-up for British Columbian patients differs with different levels of access to resources based on their geographical location.  The analysis would have been much more difficult without the skills that I had learned in these two courses." > read full testimonial
Brent Parker, Population & Radiation Oncology Research Coordinator, BC Cancer Agency

 


Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection  (PHDA 04)

"The courses that provided me the greatest benefit included the Population Health and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection.

Using the GIS and SAS skills that I learned from the PHDA program, I was able to create a Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) layer using GIS software, which showed peak greenness for the entire country over a ten-year period. Using this data and other administrative databases a team of researchers led by Dr. Dan Crouse and myself, conducted a research study that looked at how living by residential greenspace can impact longevity." > read full testimonial
Adele Balram, Data Analyst, New Brunswick Institute for Research and Data Training

 

"The GIS courses, PHDA 03 Population Health and GIS and PHDA 04 Spatial Epidemiology and Outbreak Detection provided the greatest benefits. They were excellent and introduced brand new skills for me. Prior to taking these courses I had some brief exposure to GIS within my Master’s program and through the free online PopData courses. The PHDA 03 and PHDA 04 course labs were very detailed and instructional, offering good balance between theory and practice. The courses generally had enough materials I could take away to continue working independently."
Sophy Zhang, Program Administrative Coordinator, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

 

"I was browsing for some relevant programs that would complement my current job as an epidemiologist. The PHDA courses looked good, particularly the GIS ones which I wanted to learn as it hadn’t been part of my education up to that point. The coursework was comprehensive but not too time consuming.  The GIS courses were fantastic and provided great information. I liked the method of instruction – videos that walked you through the steps of an assignment accompanied by PDF’s, which I thought helped me learn efficiently." > read full testimonial
Dorian Lunny, Epidemiologist, Northwestern Health Unit

 


Longitudinal Analysis and Multi-level Modeling of Population Health Data  (PHDA 05)

"I plan to undertake some mapping of hotspots where illicit drug use is most  common. For my interests at this time, I found the longitudinal data analysis course (PHDA 05) and geocoding skills in (PHDA 03) were the most helpful.  This is because with increasing use of multiple drugs it is important to determine where outbreaks occur and be able to establish cohorts of people who use these substances and then follow over time determining predictors of change." > read full testimonial
Lucinda Burns, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales

 

"The courses I found to be of greatest benefit to me and my work were PHDA-01 (Working with Administrative Data) and PHDA-05 (Longitudinal Analysis and Multi-level Modeling of Population Health Data). These courses provided practical skills that I find I apply regularly to my job, and made me much more comfortable with using data analytic programs like SAS." > read full testimonial
Sarah Costa, Health Economist, Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control, BC Cancer Agency

 


Health Services Program Monitoring and Evaluation  (PHDA 06)

"I enjoyed the PHDA 06 Health Services Program Monitoring and Evaluation course the most. Although I had taken an evaluation course in my Master’s program, I found the PHDA 06 course very good at clarifying information and dividing the evaluation process into very practical/applied steps/stages."
Navdeep Sandhu, Research Assistant, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

 

"PHDA 06 Health Services Program Monitoring and Evaluation course was a bit different as it did not have an SRTL lab component. I had taken a very similar course within my Master’s degree but it wasn’t as applied as the PHDA 06 course which had a very practical project component. I found the instructor’s experience and feedback as well as the peer review work really enabled me to get a lot out of the course evaluation project I completed."
Sophy Zhang, Program Administrative Coordinator, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

 

"The Health Evaluation and Program Monitoring (PHDA 06) course really helped me land a job after graduation. PHDA 06 was different from the other PHDA courses. It felt a bit like a satellite course in the program as it included a health evaluation project rather than data analysis lab work. I learned a lot from the peer review process we used.  I have applied evaluation skills that I learned from this course, including logic models, evaluation methodology, gantt charts and interview guides."
Jackson Flagg, Evaluation Lead > read full testimonial

 

"I enjoyed the Health Evaluation course (PHDA 06). Although I am familiar with this subject area, I found the concepts were presented in an effective way. Over the 12 weeks, we put together a health evaluation proposal. Work from each weekly module contributed to this final project. I think this was an interesting way to learn about the practical aspects of Health Evaluation."
Louis Wong, Epidemiologist

 

"I found the PHDA 06 was one of the most practical PHDA courses. I was able to apply the skills that I was learning to a program evaluation that I was leading within the Infection and Control Department at Interior Health Authority. Being able to directly apply the knowledge I was gaining in the course made an amazing difference to my skill development. Overall, it was a great learning experience and really provided valuable overarching guidance to my work. It supported my work in finalizing a questionnaire for stakeholders and reporting findings to Interior Health." > read full testimonial
Brent Parker, Population & Radiation Oncology Research Coordinator, BC Cancer Agency


Page last revised: September 28, 2017