Psychological Sciences Alumni Rita Taylor's Post-Graduate Work

Psychological Sciences Alumni Rita Taylor's Post-Graduate Work

Rita Taylor is an alumna of the Department of Psychological Sciences and now works at Sharp Healthcare as an Institutional Review Board (IRB) specialist. During her time at USD, Rita had worked in Dr. Koenig's lab and helped conduct research projects. She also had prior experience with USD's IRB to get approval of her research to complete her honors thesis. Rita had the opportunity to discuss with the department her experiences and position at Sharp Healthcare.  


Describe your current position?

I am an Institutional Review Board (IRB) Specialist at Sharp HealthCare. An Institutional Review Board is a federally mandated committee made up of volunteers who review research to determine if it follows the ethical principles and federal regulations for the protection of human subjects. I am a voting member of the committee, as well as one of two specialists who handle the day to day operations of the committee.

Can you describe the research projects you are reviewing?

The majority of the research projects the Sharp HealthCare IRB reviews are industry-sponsored clinical trials - my focus is on cardiology, neonatology, behavioral health, and nephrology. Of late, we have also reviewed many COVID-19 treatment protocols as these are the main source of treatment for COVID-19 inpatients at Sharp HealthCare. In addition to industry-sponsored clinical trials, we also review the graduate research projects of pharmacy residents and nursing students, which often consist of retrospective chart reviews and/or quality improvement projects. Many of the nursing projects come from Sharp employees who are pursuing their MSN or PhD in nursing from the Hahn School of Nursing. Because they use Sharp employees or patients for their projects, they often have to submit to both the USD IRB and the Sharp HealthCare IRB.

How did your undergrad education at USD prepare you for this position?

I first learned about the history of Institutional Review Boards in my Introduction to Psychology class my freshman year. My sophomore year, I began working in Dr. Koenig's lab and assisting with her research projects. There, I learned more about human subject protections in research and I saw firsthand how the requirements of the IRB and the federal regulations are put into practice during the conduct of a research project, such as obtaining informed consent and debriefing subjects after participation that involves deceit, as is common in social science studies. My senior year, I designed my own study for my honors thesis and had to obtain USD IRB's approval prior to beginning my research. When I was offered the position of IRB Specialist at Sharp HealthCare, I was grateful to have already had experience with IRBs and research due to my education at USD. Additionally, my undergraduate research experience has been incredibly important in helping me understand the perspective of the researcher, which is invaluable in my job due to the high level of collaboration that is required in the researcher-IRB relationship.

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