Kiernan Riley

Over the summer I wrote an Institutional Review Board (IRB) research proposal for a study focused on educating a student population on organ donation. This included calling local schools, meeting with professors on Penn State Worthington Campus, writing a research proposal, and taking the necessary steps to submit the protocol to the Penn State IRB. Throughout the course of the 2017-2018 school year, pending IRB approval, I will conduct my research at my local campus and subsequently analyze data. I will also be submitting this research for poster presentation at the Eastern Nursing Research Symposium, taking place in April 2018.

Research became a part of my nursing undergraduate career early on. Since my sophomore year, I have worked with Dr. Michael Evans on his research projects on heart failure. While I have learned more than I could have hoped from working with Dr. Evans, and while I continue to work with him on his heart failure research, I feel very privileged to have been able to choose my own research topic and begin to execute my plan. Organ donation is something that I have always been interested in since I received my driver’s license at 17 and had to make the decision for myself.

Last semester I took a nursing research course which is where I became interested in the topic of organ donation. As we carried out literature reviews on our chosen topic, I became more engrossed with the material. Using this literature review as a source of background knowledge on the topic of education on organ donation, I was able to come up with the idea for a research study. Previously working with Dr. Evans on his own IRB protocols gave me the necessary knowledge and experience to begin writing my own research proposal.

I saw first-hand the kind of obstacles that can arise when working with human subjects during research. Not all original ideas can be executed according to plan. For example, I had originally planned on doing research with high-school students. However, I was unable to find a local school that was willing to host this kind of research. I had to change my research protocol population to college students, who are more suitable to be part of a research study. I also learned the amount of information which goes into an IRB study proposal. Every detail of the research must be addressed. As I am planning on attending graduate school for nursing research, this ongoing experience has shown me the work that goes into writing a research proposal, and will continue to show me the responsibilities and demands of being the principal investigator of a research study.

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