In the current climate where self-quarantine is recommended, I was able to have a fulfilling and truly unforgettable experience over the summer because of the Hayley Petit Fellowship at the Injury Prevention Center (IPC) in Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
As a Hayley Petit Fellow, I was able to attend Pediatric Grand Rounds, offered weekly through Connecticut Children’s Continuing Medical Education office, which allowed me to hear medical professionals discuss their journey as a doctor and their current research. I also received the rare opportunity to learn about different areas of injury prevention (e.g. child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, poisonings, firearms, suicide, etc.) from experts in their field, as well as conducting and presenting a literature review with their mentorship. The IPC staff are extremely welcoming, supportive, and passionate about their work, which greatly inspired me to pursue a Master’s in Public Health due to a newly found interest in injury prevention!
My most prominent takeaway from the Hayley Petit Fellowship is that injuries are NOT accidents, because they are preventable! Let’s use a car crash as an example. All cars have seat belts to restrain the individual from flying through the windshield, airbags to soften the collision, and crumple zones that allow drivers a few more precious seconds to slow the car’s momentum. The laws and roads themselves are intended to help us: speed limits, mandatory seat belt policies, and guardrails. Additionally, the implementation of a graduated driving license helps further prepare teen drivers before allowing them on the road. There is a multitude of factors that assist with mitigating severe injury and promote safe driving habits. Without these measures, undoubtedly, car injuries would be significantly higher. Many policies and the way particular objects are manufactured or used is due to the benevolence of others who took the initiative to help the greater good. These initiatives were fought for persistently and oftentimes were difficult to get implemented. Individuals may believe these changes are trifles or hassles and want them gone, when in fact these hold an immense potential—a likely life-saving one.
Another lesson I have become aware of is the necessity to focus on limiting these injuries from transpiring initially. I used to regularly have a mindset of when this thing happens, you have to follow a procedure and do XYZ to make it better, but what if the event in the first place can be averted? Then, there would be less of a need to practice whatever XYZ is. Thus, having preventative measures is much more effective and efficient than the treatment afterward. On top of that, injuries can be chronic, traumatic, and have high mortality rates. So, even if there is a remedy, it can not guarantee how long someone will take to recover, and if a complete recovery is possible.
The principles of injury prevention have allowed me to obtain an invaluable perspective of the world around me, and I would not have noticed these now seemingly common-sense interventions, that I used to take for granted if I had not been a Hayley Petit Fellow!
Cindy Pan is a member of UConn’s Class of 2022 with a major in Molecular and Cell Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Cindy identifies as an Asian American woman and is a first-generation college student.