From quality of life in EDs to prehospital care in Puerto Rico: Learn about EMSC Scholars’ projects

  • Published October 27, 2021
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The EMSC Innovation and Improvement Center (EIIC) Research Domain supports all research endeavors across the EIIC and provides assistance to related EMSC programs, including supporting Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) and Targeted Issues Grant meetings.

A key new initiative for the Research Domain has been the development of the EMSC Scholars Program, which launched earlier this year. Program Co-Directors Corrie Chumpitazi, MD, MS, and Rachel Stanley, MD, MHSA, designed the program to support early career clinicians and health systems professionals in becoming future leaders in the EMSC space.

Six scholars were announced in March and since then, have been working to develop, refine, and implement a unique EMSC project.

Learn about the 2021-2022 Scholars and their projects


Cindy Chang, MD

Bio: Chang completed her emergency medicine residency at the Los Angeles County-Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and started her pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in July 2021. She is also currently an instructor of clinical emergency medicine for the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California-Davis and subsequently worked as a clinical research coordinator for PECARN prior to earning her medical degree from the Ohio State University College of Medicine. She previously served as the chair of the Emergency Medicine Residents' Association (EMRA) Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee and was selected as the recipient of the EMRA Resident of the Year Award.

Project: Chang’s project focuses on identifying the preferred educational resources and modality needs for pediatric emergency content from stakeholders in the general community ED practice setting.

Mentorship team: Marc Auerbach, MD, MSCi, Corrie Chumpitazi, MD, MS, Kate Remick, MD, Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, and Michelle Eckerle, MD.


Samantha Collins, NREMT, EMT-B, BS

Bio: Collins is an emergency department technician at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Together with her local mentor, Christian Pulcini, MD, MEd, MPH, she received a University of Vermont Medical Center Foundation grant to support her work on this project. She received her undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics from Tufts University and has taken the MCAT with plans to apply for medical school.

Project: Collins is conducting a qualitative research study of parents with a child undergoing emergency evaluation for pediatric mental healthcare placement.

Mentorship: Christian D. Pulcini, MD, MEd, MPH, and Corrie Chumpitazi, MD, MS.


Nina Friedman, MS, CCLS

Bio: Friedman is a certified child life specialist at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in the Pediatric Emergency Department. She graduated cum laude from Goucher College in 2011 with a BA in Sociology. In 2016, she obtained her Master of Science in Child Life from the Bank Street College of Education. Friedman also works with the children of critically ill adult patients as part of a Child Life Adult Referral Team. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked to connect children to their parents in the hospital and supported the family as a unit. In addition to her work in the hospital, she volunteers with the Young Center where she is a Guardian ad Litem to advocate for best interests, safety, and wellbeing of unaccompanied immigrant children.

Project: Over the last five years, Friedman has watched a mental health crisis continue to grow and unfold in the Pediatric Emergency Department. Friedman’s work with these patients and families is what drives her research. Her study focuses on understanding the quality of life for children with mental and behavioral health emergencies in the pediatric emergency department.

Mentorship team: Lois Lee MD, MPH, Shari Platt, MD, Kathleen Morton, FNP, MPH, Rachel Stanley, MD, MHSA, Charmaine Lo, PhD, MPH, and Nicole Gerber, MD.


Ashley Foster, MD

Bio: Foster is an emergency medicine and pediatric emergency medicine attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and instructor in emergency medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She completed her emergency medicine residency at the University of California San Francisco, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and her fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine and quality outreach at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is passionate about enhancing care of children in all practice settings. She currently serves as the Massachusetts Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator Network Chair and is the co-chair of the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians Pediatric Committee.

Project: Foster’s project focuses on understanding the emergency approach and treatment of acute agitation in children with mental and behavioral health conditions. For the study, a survey will be administered to pediatric emergency care coordinators throughout Los Angeles and the New England region.

Mentorship team: Mohsen Saidinejad, MD, MS, MBA, and Joyce Li, MD, MPH.


Liliana Morales-Perez, MD, MPH

Bio: Morales-Perez is a pediatric emergency medicine physician born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she studied medicine and specialized in pediatrics at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. After completing a year as chief resident, she moved to Texas to continue subspecialty training in pediatric emergency medicine and global health at Baylor College of Medicine. While working abroad, she developed a passion for bedside ultrasound and completed a Pediatric Point of Care Ultrasound Fellowship at Texas Children's Hospital. During this time, she finished a master’s degree in public health with a Global Health Concentration at the University of Texas Health Science Center. During these years, she also worked abroad in Malawi, Puerto Rico, and Panamá. After training, she moved back to Puerto Rico to help advance pediatric emergency medicine and is on the faculty at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.

Project: Morales-Perez’s research focuses on understanding the current state of pediatric education and training for prehospital personnel across Puerto Rico.

Mentorship team: Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, and Milagros Martin de Pumarejo, MD.


Natasha Thompson, FNP-C

Bio: Thompson is a family nurse practitioner currently working at Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital Emergency Department in Muncie, Indiana. She started her career working at Riley Hospital for Children as a nurse in a pediatric emergency department in Indianapolis and has spent 10 years in emergency medicine. She is currently a doctoral student at the Indiana University School of Nursing.

Project: Thompson’s research study seeks to understand how to optimize pediatric emergency care coordinators (PECC) in Indiana by evaluating potential enablers and barriers to PECC appointments and sustainability.

Mentorship team: Rachel Stanley, MD, MHSA and Elizabeth Weinstein, MD.

Recruitment for the next class of scholars will begin in early spring 2022; recruitment for fellows will begin in late summer 2022.