Research In Action

Research In Action

Where Paramedicine and Research Intersect
November 30, 2021

In 2017 while completing my undergraduate degree in Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, I obtained my national paramedic certification. Although I love working on the ambulance, I knew it wasn’t something that I wanted to do full-time as my career.

After graduation, I moved back home to the Lehigh Valley, PA region and spent a gap year trying to decide my future while still working as a paramedic. During that time, I discovered the field of public health. A friend suggested I take a class first in the subject before applying to a graduate program. I took her advice and enrolled in Intro to Public Health at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 and absolutely fell in love with the field. I was then accepted to Penn’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program in 2019.

Shortly after starting the MPH program, I came across an open position as a Graduate Research Assistant on Dr. Allison Curry’s team at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP). I was particularly interested in working with her team because of its focus on teen driving safety and child occupant safety technology.

Preventing Crashes Before They Happen

As a paramedic, I respond to many car crashes, including ones that unfortunately involve children. Other than raising awareness about proper car seat installation and use, I used to feel frustrated that there was nothing I could do to help prevent these crashes or keep children safe. When I joined Dr. Curry’s team, I was ecstatic. Not only would I gain experience in scientific research, I would also help prevent crashes involving children and teens as part of this team.

Two studies impacted me the most during my time as a Graduate Research Assistant. The first was a distracted driving app study, in which young drivers and their parents downloaded an app that would help us determine the frequency of their smartphone use while driving. The second study was a car seat safety study, where parents tested out a new harness tensioner device with their child and provided feedback. Working on these studies provided what was missing while working as a paramedic: the ability to have an active contribution in making the roadways safer and preventing crashes before they happen.

I am now a full-time Clinical Research Coordinator on Dr. Curry’s team. While you can still find me on the ambulance in Berks County every other weekend, I am grateful to be furthering my career in research with this amazing team. I am especially excited about an upcoming study where we will be using in-vehicle naturalistic technology to provide insights about distracted driving behaviors.