P.Mean: Teaching classes for a fee (created 2008-11-03, updated 2011-07-11).

Well, today I officially start my new job as an independent consultant. We had a bit of a scare yesterday because we thought Nicholas might have strep throat, but he was negative, so I'm able to spend my first day actually doing work rather than watching over a sick child. I was asked by someone at Children's Mercy Hospital how much it would cost to continue teaching the short courses that I have offered. Since I will also make those courses available to anyone else, I thought I'd share my general comments about fees and logistics here.

My consulting fees are currently $250 an hour, but I offer a $75 discount if the consulting work does not involve travel. I'm a bit unusual in that I do not use PowerPoint for my classes and seminars. Instead, I have a webpage or a series of webpages that I print out and use as a handout during the class or seminar.

In 2009, I started experimenting with a series of webinars. I did not charge for these webinars, but used them to promote my consulting business. I no longer offer these free webinars, as I am way too busy and didn't get any serious leads from all this work. But, I did learn how to present effectively in a webinar format and can provide you with custom classes at a remote location without incurring any travel expenses. You can review my webinar page and look at archives of old webinars.

You should also look at the handouts for classes that I taught while I was Children's Mercy Hospital. These can easily be adapted for a live class or webinar.

There is preparation time associated with these classes, and even for classes that I have done before, I need at least a half hour of prep time. If I need to develop new material for you, it will cost more. A good rule of thumb is that it takes four hours of prep time for each hour of lecturing.

Some groups offer a set honorarium for seminars and I'd be happy to take the honorarium even if it is a bit lower.

Now many of the places that I might offer a seminar or short course already have access to a statistician who could teach those classes for free (well actually not free, but the salary is covered by someone else). I'm not out to compete with other statisticians, and there are certainly advantages to going with a statistician you already know and love.

I offer several advantages, however, that are worth mentioning.

First, I have a large repertoire of classes already prepared. The handouts for these classes have been used many times and have been regularly improved and updated in response to feedback.

Second, these classes are all self-contained and do not suffer if a student misses one out of a sequence of classes. This requires some level of repetition and review at the start of each class, and I view that as an advantage. Repetition is the best teacher and often a message doesn't truly sink in until is repeated several different times in several different contexts.

Third, in most places I know, the statisticians are very busy people. By having me help out in an area like teaching, that will take some of the pressure off of your local statisticians and allow them to concentrate on meeting other demands.

Fourth, I offer an emphasis in my statistics classes that is unique among statisticians. I teach most of my classes from an evidence-based medicine perspective. My belief is that if you understand how the evidence-based medicine practitioners approach the critical appraisal of research, you will be better able to design research studies that are more likely to be persuasive to those practitioners. It's an adaptation of one of the seven principles of Stephen Covey, "Begin with the end in mind." Design you study from the start to include those elements (such as concealed allocation and intention to treat) that EBM considers important.

Finally, I talk the language of medicine. We statisticians are indeed in love with our formulas, but I have worked very hard to minimize these in my classes. Instead, I discuss research examples published in the peer-review literature. We can learn a lot from what was done well and what was done poorly in current publications addressing real medical problems. In short, my statistics classes are applied rather than theoretical.

I've always enjoyed teaching seminars and short courses, and if there is a need for statistics training in your area, I would love to talk to you about this.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. This page was written by Steve Simon and was last modified on 2010-04-01. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Professional details.