Summer Fellows Study Injury Prevention

By: Garry Lapidus, PA-C, MPH

Summer is a busy time at Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center (IPC) because the season always brings with it an unfortunate array of preventable injuries, and we do all we can to raise awareness about the ways parents and caregivers can prevent such injuries.

Through all of our media interviews and ongoing research, easily the highlight of our summer is the six weeks when we host our fellows at the IPC.

This summer, we were fortunate to have six fellows join us.

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Back row (left to right): Adrienne Nguyen, Natalie Wickenheisser, Madison Adams and Leianna Dolce. Front row (left to right): Maliha Ahsan and Maggie McGeary.

Four of them participated in the Hayley Petit Injury and Violence Prevention Fellowship program, which is generously supported each summer by the Petit Family Foundation. Those fellows were Madison Adams, from Hopedale, Massachusetts who studies molecular and cell biology and public health at the University of Connecticut; Maliha Ahsan, from Manchester, Connecticut who studies sociology and criminology at Eastern Connecticut State University; Maggie McGeary, from Bolton, Connecticut who studies nursing at Villanova University; and Natalie Wickenheisser, from Cheshire, Connecticut who studies molecular and cell biology at the University of Connecticut.

We were also fortunate to expand our fellowship program this summer beyond the Hayley Petit fellows, to include two additional fellows based in Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department/Injury Prevention Center, supported by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Those fellows were Adrienne Nguyen, from Avon, Connecticut who studies biological sciences and pathobiology at the University of Connecticut and Leianna Dolce, from Haddam, Connecticut who studies neuroscience at the University of Vermont.

The fellows spent six weeks studying injury prevention from Connecticut Children’s experts. Their activities included attending Grand Rounds continuing education lectures, participating in discussions based on readings from books on injury prevention, and shadowing providers in the Emergency Department and other clinical areas.

Each summer as the fellowships wind down, the fellows present research proposals as well as their thoughts on what they learned over the summer to Injury Prevention Center staff, other Connecticut Children’s staff, and members of the Petit Family Foundation.

This year’s proposals were impressive and included studying the prevalence of suicide prevention curriculum in high schools, studying the correlation between aggressive behavior and depression in adolescents, and analyzing the prevalence of screening for teen dating violence at hospitals and physician practices.

The fellows also shared their thoughts on the most impactful parts of their experiences, which they stated included learning about the prevalence of intimate partner violence and watching various surgical procedures.

As the presentations wound down, on behalf of all of the fellows, Maliha Ahsan thanked the Petit Family Foundation, the IPC team, and the families for their support and guidance.

“Our experiences have been memorable and inspiring altogether,” Ahsan stated. “We’re all here to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This experience is once in a lifetime. This whole fellowship was really amazing for all of us.”

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William A. Petit Jr., MD, president of the Petit Family Foundation, thanked the fellows for their presentation. “This is a small grant that we do, but it’s the most impactful,” he stated.

We are grateful for the support of the Petit Family Foundation and Connecticut Children’s in making these fellowships a reality. We so fortunate to have fellows join us every summer, as they represent the future of medicine and injury prevention. We are proud to help them along on their educational journeys.

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 UConn School of Medicine.

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