Supervision & Education

20130319_As a PhD candidate in Wageningen, I have lots of contact with both students and colleagues from all over the world. I received some enthusiastic responses on my last post, in which I described a typical week as a PhD candidate. However, the non-Dutch people I deal with, felt a little bit left out because of my Dutch blog. So here I am, writing English and all!

Lots of things happened in the past months. Here a short summary…

Supervising Public Health Practice

As part of my Training & Supervision Plan, each academic year I have to help or supervise during a course at Wageningen University. This year (and probably every year during my PhD), I supervised project groups during the course Public Health Practice. It’s an awesome course (and that’s why I chose it obviously) that deals with designing and planning a public health intervention based on current health problems.  It uses the rather useful book Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, and I think the students really get a taste of the work that goes into the development of an intervention in real life. Below you can see a picture of the problem tree one group made about cardiovascular disease, in only half an hour. This was the first time I supervised group work, and I have to say that it was awesome. I didn’t expect it to feel like this at all, but it’s great to see students grow as a group like that. I was so proud to see the end result of their hard work during their presentation at the end of the course. Group Uganda & Group Turkey, you were great!!

Supervising internship

Perfectly fitting into my activities of supervising, I have to supervise an intern for the coming months. She will look into the data of the 2010-Elderly Survey of the Community Health Services. It’s a prrrrretttty large data set containing lots and lots of information regarding the health and well-being of older adults, acquired by means of a questionnaire. Around 30,000 people filled it out for the provinces Gelderland and Overijssel, so that’s a great way to start obtaining information on my target group! Francy will help me with that as part of her internship, her last frontier before graduation. I hope I can help her properly, as I don’t want to be one of those supervisors who actually lack the time to have students but still take them on anyway…. Her work will be quite valuable, so even only for my own sake, I should do my best to help her with all my (yes, aaaaaall, because I have soooooo many) capacities.

Following the course Analytical Epidemiology

After all these years, following a course like a good old student… I have to admit, it felt quite weird at first, but I also realized that I missed being a student. The thing I definitely did NOT miss was having to start at 8.30 in the morning, though. Is it normal for a PhD candidate to follow a 6 ECTS course for 8 weeks? Well, not really, but you DO have the choice to do so, at least in Wageningen. Analytical Epidemiology is a course I wanted to follow years ago, but I had no time left during my studies. It’s a course that combines everything you learned about “dry” statistics with “dry” epidemiology, where you learn to apply the statistics to real data sets from real studies. You learn to deal with missing values, for example, and how to test for confounders in massive, massive data sets. And you learn to do so my using SAS. I only worked with SPSS until this day, so I was a bit scared to start with SAS only now, as I already have trouble figuring out SPSS. However, it proved to be a very valuable asset, as you have to “program” your analyses yourself, so you are more aware of what you’re doing than when you just press some buttons in SPSS and tadaaaa, a p-value appears. I obediently attended every lecture and practical, and although I was a wee bit anxious about the exam, I passed it quite easily, woohooo! Now I have more confidence that I can apply the principles of quantitative research, next to the qualitative methods, as I aim to work according to a mixed methods methodology during my whole research. More about that the next time!