Getting Into Research

As you can tell by my frequency of blog posts over the past few months, my schedule has become a little more challenging as I get started in the PhD program here at the University of Maryland.  In just a few months of working with more experienced research faculty it has become very clear that I have a lot to learn in terms of becoming an independent researcher.


One of the first challenges I’ve faced has been learning the programming language of SAS (formerally stood for Statistical Analysis System).  At first, just completing simple homework assignments made me want to throw my laptop out of my 4th floor office window.  Eventually, the logic of the program began to click and I began to write my own programs that could successfully analyze large data sets.  I couldn’t help but laugh at myself when I realized just how excited I got when one of my first programs worked.


I can’t stress enough how much I think this program will help me with statistics.  I used to think I was pretty good in this area but quickly discovered that I’m more like Jon Snow from Game of Thrones in that “I know nothing.”  After a year of research methods coursework and biostatistics, I’ve almost become cynical with every thing I read in the news.  I now question just about every number I see and I’m sure it will soon become annoying to the people around me.


Regardless of the methods or tools used in research, it is really all about the impact the research has on normal life.  In other words: Who cares?  Sometimes I get lost in the data I’m working with and forget this simple question.  Many academics focus on publishing in “high impact” journals, but does the information ever make it to the real end user?


I think one of the biggest challenges will be enduring 4-5 years of difficult work that takes a great deal of effort and is criticized at every step along the way.  Starting the program was exciting and scary at the same time.

My watch begins

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Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy located in Baltimore, Maryland. Joey has managed retail and long-term care pharmacy operations in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. Leading Over The Counter is a blog of Joey's views and opinions on the topics of pharmacy leadership and management and do not represent the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Joey can be followed on Twitter @joeymattingly.

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