Blog Global Health Center

The importance of storytelling research

Written by Victoria Wright, BA candidate at Washington University in St. Louis and a Summer Pediatric Research in Global Health Translation (SPRIGHT) Scholar in the 2022 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

This summer in the Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track, I have had the privilege of working with Mini Tandon, DO, associate professor of child psychiatry; John Constantino, MD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics; and Gretchen Buchanan, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in clinical & translational sciences.

I have been able to integrate my passion for mental health, pediatrics, and public policy by exploring the efficacy of methods for preventing child maltreatment recidivism among infants and toddlers in court custody in the SYNCHRONY project. My research project aims to produce and publish data that shows that children enrolled in the SYNCHRONY project demonstrate lower maltreatment recidivism rates, and to help improve the clinical assessment of preparation for a safe reunion of children to guardians. I have undeniably enjoyed the research portion of the program! However, one of my favorite experiences in the program so far was during our virtual social hour, where my cohort and I played a game called Werewolf as we networked and explored our different passions.

Victoria Wright taking a break from hiking at Castlewood State Park in St. Louis

Participating in the summer program has taught me many valuable lessons, one being from Emmanuel Tetteh, MD, senior manager of international research programs in the Division of Biostatistics at WashU. Tetteh ended one of our career seminars by quoting an African proverb: “Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be a hero.” This proverb serves as a reminder that science and the art of storytelling are intrinsically connected. A story is never complete until we hear from all sides. Throughout the program, I have been reminded of this proverb as I have researched children from the SYNCHRONY project who either do not have a voice, or do not have the means to publish their stories. The virtual nature of the program has forced me to become more critically aware of my research skills. It has helped me develop into a better storyteller and, in turn, a better researcher. As I explore health disparities concerning pediatric care in the future, I will maintain a demeanor filled with passion, patience, and perseverance. I am thankful to everyone who has made this summer research experience possible.