Moderator's Note: This post was authored by Emily Sykes, BS, who served as a clinical research coordinator on the Digital Health team. As of October 2017, Ms. Sykes has left CHOP to pursue her career elsewhere.
Like many recent college graduates, I was overwhelmed by the many possible “next steps.” Lucky for me, I was able to pursue my career path in injury science research straight from my co-op experience at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP). A Psychology major at Drexel University in Philadelphia, I started my co-op at CIRP in April 2015 as part of the Teen Driver Safety Research team’s Teen Outreach Evaluation for Driving Safety project with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot). The first year of the two-year project included stakeholder interviews in the community, reviews of existing programs both within the state and across the nation, and interactive workshops with traffic safety professionals. I gained a lot of great experience communicating with industry professionals and learning about program planning and evaluation.
I quickly became accustomed to the professionalism and team mentality demonstrated by my colleagues, and I knew I wanted to stick around to learn more. Fortunately, I was kept on board as a Research Assistant while I finished up my BS. This allowed me to continue working on Year 2 of the PennDOT Project. Post-graduation, I was hired as a full-time Research Coordinator under Dr. Linda Fleisher’s team, taking on a larger role in completing the project, including the development of a comprehensive guide for stakeholders called the Pennsylvania Teen Driving Program Planning & Evaluation Guidebook. Designed to help teen driver safety stakeholders make the most of their programming, the 13-chapter guidebook includes:
- how to identify a specific community’s traffic safety issues and needs
- how to leverage that information to maximize program impact
- how to measure impact to revise programs for the future
The guidebook comes with a resource book that contains worksheets, helpful websites, and a database of teen driving programs. We also created the CHOP Program Planning & Evaluation YouTube Channel to comprehensively walk stakeholders through each step of planning and evaluating teen driving programs. Best of all, the concepts are applicable for anyone involved in traffic safety, injury prevention, education, or public health program planning.
My team is also excited about being invited to present more information about these resources in April at the 2017 PA Traffic Safety Conference in State College, PA. We look forward to sharing these materials with others interested in teen driver safety, and we hope these resources will have a positive impact on program development, and ultimately, reduce teen crashes.
This collaborative project has been an exciting way to start my career, and I hope the future will hold more opportunities for me to make a positive impact on public health.
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