Mid-Summer Epi Character Tome

Even though I’ve only ever created one character for a Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, I tend to make daily use of the phrase “leveling up.” Sometimes it’s a sarcastic remark utter in referring to another person – when the (now ex-) Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro headed an official apology to former comfort women, I muttered that the event was a leveling up 60 years in the making. On a happier note, however, I also consider the routes through which I, friends, family, and colleagues can and do level up. I think about what can make us better at what we do – as friends and partners, as healthy individuals, and, in my case, as an epidemiologist with relatively little real world experience to-date.

I might be addicted to learning, and seeking out new self-education opportunities, in the way that some people are die-hard players of Candy Crush.

I am always trying to pursue what I see as new Epi-related skills, to flesh out my current knowledge of nodes and connections, and (AND) I have kept a list. Think of it as a character sheet.

In adapting my list for this post, I’ve stuck to concepts and softwares/hardwares that are on the technical side of epidemiology learning and omitted personal wellbeing fields that, I am certain, are just as crucial to my professional path. I have rated each skill on my own subjective, anecdotal, and yet logical 1 to 10 scale, where 1 is equivalent to a recent subject introduction that calls for further practice and 10’s adroitness is performed without hesitation, with months of experience, but includes the tenet that there is always more to learn. (If anything, I am likely to be too hard on myself.) I grouped each skill roughly by type and, because it is summer, I have placed an asterisk (*) by the skills I have used so far in my internship.

Coding Languages and Programs with Coding
*Python +1
*Microsoft SQL/VBA +7
Matlab +4
HTML5 and XHTML +8
JavaScript +8
*ArcGIS 10.1 +2
*SAS 9.2 and 9.3 +5
STATA 12 +3
NetLogo +2
JMP +1
*Access +8

Software Without UErCoding
*Word +10
*Excel +9
*Publisher +7
PowerPoint +10
InDesign +5
Illustrator +4
Photoshop +2
Google Productivity Tools +9
Atlas.ti + 7

Tasks and Skill Areas
*Coding/Computer Interaction +7
*Data Analysis +7
Statistical Regression +5
*Writing Reports +8
*Workplace Communication +6
*Multitasking/Prioritizing +8
*Self-Motivation +7
*Proofing +10

Large Database Experience
*eHARS +5
NHANES +7

I think my next steps consist of improving my SAS and GIS knowledge, learn R, incorporate more regression into practice, and not let my anxiety cloud my love to write in both personal and professional forms (and oh, do those two interact). I think, too, that I may start including my ability/flexibility to pick up new traits fast and remember/add to them with depth.

Oh. Hello, by the by. My name is Jamaica and my apologies for being late to the party. It has been a weird/hard summer, but I have looked forward to meeting you. I am an epidemiology student currently working with the HIV Surveillance Unit in Southfield, MI. I get giddy at all things data.

More soon. Truly.

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