We are happy to announce that Dr. Rosita Thomas has joined the Market Connections research team.
Rosita received her Ph.D. in political science, with an emphasis on American government and public policy, from Yale University in 1987. She also did post-graduate work at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. She received her B.A. from Duke University. Throughout her career, she has become equally skilled in qualitative and quantitative research. As project lead, she often takes quantitative projects from research-question development to questionnaire design to analysis. Her resume includes being a senior research associate at AARP, having managed large-scale qualitative and quantitative studies; consulting for Washington, D.C., firm Frederick Schneiders Research; and working for the Gallup Organization for two years and at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress for five years. While at the Library of Congress, NATO’s Secretary General invited her to speak at a NATO event in Brussels. She later received a Meritorious Service award from Congress for providing Congress with “timely, accurate, and wide ranging information and analysis on the Persian Gulf Crisis.”
Rosita brings all that experience to lead our association and healthcare divisions. With her government background and expertise in policy and policy-making, there is no doubt she’ll participate in other types of research as well.
We thought an interview with Rosita would help you get to know her.
MC: What made you fall in love with research?
Rosita: I’ve always had a natural curiosity; I love understanding the “whys,” which is what research is about. If there is a problem, I want to know why it happened and what can be done to fix it.
My first experience with research was writing my dissertation. That’s where I learned the importance of evidence-based research, and the steps for doing it. Evidence-based research is not something you delve into lightly — you develop your hypotheses, collect the data and then test your hypotheses.
MC: But you didn’t immediately become a researcher …
Rosita: No. I wanted to become a college professor. I did graduate work at the Kennedy School of Government and got my Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. For many years, I taught Political Science with a focus on public policy, public opinion, and Congress and the Presidency. When I first started teaching I was a Teaching Assistant at Yale, then I taught public opinion at the University of Texas in Dallas, American University and George Washington University.
MC: How did you become a researcher?
Rosita: I was teaching my students how people use data to make decisions. The more I taught, the more I realized I didn’t want to just talk about it, I wanted to do it. So I moved to Washington, D.C., and I took a job at the Congressional Research Service, where I briefed members of Congress and their staff on public opinion. This was during the Persian Gulf War. It was amazing to provide daily debriefs to members of Congress and their staff about what America was thinking about our involvement in the war, and using historical evidence as a background to help inform them about why America was thinking the way it was about sending troops overseas.
After that I worked for the Gallup Organization and then AARP, working with data and understanding research in both organizations. And I have stayed interested, in part because my whole life’s work has been about questioning and finding answers.
MC: You’ll be leading our healthcare research. Tell us about your experience in this field.
Rosita: With respect to the healthcare market, I’m particularly interested in doing consumer research, although I do have experience with provider research as well. Specifically I’m interested in what drives a consumer segment or special population to take an action. For example, we might want to know how best to convince a segment of the population to get their annual flu shots: What is this population segment’s motivators and barriers to getting a flu shot? How do we overcome those barriers? We may find that the answer is as simple as using specific language in the PSAs, or it may be more complex — linked to access and costs.
I have a special interest in talking to consumers about difficult topics using a patient journey methodology. I have talked to patients who are HIV positive about their medication routines and testing. Recently I talked with people with severe mental illness who also have a debilitating condition called Tardive Dyskinesia (TD). I’m honored that consumers feel so comfortable sharing their stories with me.
Part of the reason I love the patient journey work is because we can help our clients create programs or provide solutions that improve lives. It is incredibly rewarding.
I also like doing research directly with HCPs, allied health professionals, payers, and pharma. For example, I’ve done research with surgeons and sales reps to discover whether personality typing for a specialized group of surgeons can be used to successfully predict whether a specific surgeon is likely to be open or not open to adopting a new protocol. Again, I’m always looking at the motivators and the drivers, and also the barriers to taking an action.
MC: You’ll be leading our association research as well — tell us about your experience there.
Rosita: With respect to associations, I think probably the most exciting thing is that associations are there to help their membership. They always want to know how they can help their members: service their needs and offer them the best membership value proposition.
Bottom line, every association wants to know how they can best grow and retain their membership. This work is particularly rewarding when our association client implements the recommendations and sees positive change. When a client calls and says: “As a result of doing X, Y and Z, our membership has increased by X percent,” well, that’s the kind of thing that makes my day.
MC: What is your favorite type of research or client?
Rosita: My favorite way of doing research is to test a hypothesis with a quantitative study, then follow up with a qualitative study, where we can actually prove those hypotheses. So I like working with clients who have very clearly thought out “here’s what I need” or “here’s an objective we have” and then are open to various ways of trying to reach their objectives.
My mantra when I’m meeting with any client is: “How can we get it done? How can we help our clients meet their needs?”
MC: What is one thing we should all know about you?
Rosita: Oh, there is more than one thing. First, I have all kinds of interests. And whatever the topic, I become passionate about it.
Once a teacher, always a teacher. I love sharing knowledge. I love learning. It’s very exciting to be able to provide insights and help my clients learn something through the research. I think that I just have a natural curiosity and I never stop thinking about ways to improve the services that I provide.
One of my clients once said: “Working with Rosita is kind of like Disney. Just when you think you’ve had everything you could possibly want, there’s still more to come.”
Please join us in welcoming Rosita to the Market Connections team. We are all excited to see the great things she will be doing for our clients.