Injury Prevention

Petit Fellows Share Lessons Learned

By: Garry Lapidus, PA-C, MPH

At Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center (IPC), we take pride in educating future standouts in the medical field. Just as they learn from us, we learn so much from them which was the case this summer when we hosted The Hayley Petit Injury & Violence Prevention Fellowship.

During the fellowship, Natalie Fulco (Fairfield University), Ashley Mulryan (UConn), Grace Nichols (UConn), and Aziz Sandhu (UConn), all spent six weeks at the IPC studying injury and violence prevention. They attended weekly Grand Rounds sessions, participated in research meetings, listened to lectures and shadowed practitioners in various clinical settings at the hospital.

I enjoyed having the fellows shadow me in the emergency department where I taught them the importance of not only addressing chief medical complaints, but also looking beyond those complaints to be aware of the social determinants of health such as intimate partner violence. As chairman of the Board of Directors at Interval House, the state’s largest domestic violence shelter, I have a passion for helping people break free of abusive situations which is why I screen for such issues in our ED. I was energized by how quickly and eagerly the fellows embraced my goal of raising awareness about the issue.

This is the third year we have hosted The Hayley Petit Injury & Violence Prevention Fellowship. It is generously sponsored by the Petit Family Foundation, which is dedicated to honoring the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Elizabeth Petit and Michaela Rose Petit by continuing the kindness, idealism and activism that defined their lives.

I am always amazed by how quickly the six weeks goes by. I am also inspired by just how much the Petit fellows learn and how committed they are when they leave here to dedicating their careers to improving public health.

Every year as the fellowship winds down, our fellows present what they learned to our staff and to members of the Petit Family Foundation.

At this year’s final presentation, I recall Ashley Mulryan, who plans to become a physician assistant like myself, stating, “This was a tremendous opportunity for us. There’s nothing else like this in the state with regards to public health. It was a great six weeks and we wish we could do it again.”

Grace Nichols, who is majoring in biomedical engineering and plans to pursue a career in healthcare, said, “We’re now so much more likely to pursue a Masters of Public Health degree and implement what we’ve learned here in our lives.”

Each of the fellows expressed thanks to Dr. William Petit and the Petit Family Foundation for sponsoring the fellowships and to the IPC staff for hosting the fellowships. We truly feel honored to have had them spend time with us, as we believe educating the next generation of healthcare professionals about injury and violence prevention is crucial to improving health outcomes now and for years to come.

Garry Lapidus, PA-C, MPH, is the director of Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center and an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at the UConn School of Medicine.

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