REACH Scholarship

Scholarships to attend our Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program are awarded to primary care providers working in under-resourced communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. These scholarships are funded by generous donations from the Neuberger Berman Foundation and individual donors.

2021 REACH Scholarship Recipients

2020 REACH Scholarship Recipients

2019 REACH Scholarship Recipients

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“Every pediatric and family practice resident should be required to take this course! I will take away a renewed appreciation for assessment tools, a new comfort with treatment plans, and an excitement for future partnerships”

Lisa Barker, MD
Boise, ID

2021 REACH Scholarship Recipients

All 10 of these scholarship recipients will attend virtual trainings in fall 2021.

Ursulina Bencosme, MD

Having moved from a system where every child saw a psychiatrist, Ursulina Bencosme, MD, now works in a health center in Providence, RI, where most patients see only their PCP. She thus feels the need to learn to treat common mental health disorders and reduce referrals to specialists. “The families I serve really appreciate that their needs can be met in their local clinic,” she wrote.

Emily Braun, MD

Emily Braun, MD, is a pediatrician in an Omaha clinic that serves a largely Spanish-speaking population, many of whom have no insurance and face multiple barriers to mental health care. Emily wants to reduce the wait time to less than one month by providing affordable mental health care in her clinic. Later she hopes to create a pediatric mental health clinic within her practice.

Kimberly Brown, MD

Kimberly Brown, MD, is a pediatrician in rural Missouri, where wait times for psychiatric services are at least six months. She is looking to improve her ability to provide medical management of mental health disorders and to share her knowledge with other providers in her practice. Kimberly helped found the Section on Minority Health Equity and Inclusion in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mollie FitzGerald, Nurse

Mollie FitzGerald is a nurse practitioner in a greater Boston clinic that serves a large immigrant population. To counteract long wait times for psychiatric care, Mollie wants to develop the skills and confidence to diagnose and treat basic mental health conditions. Specifically, she wants to learn medical management of patients with ADHD who also suffer from comorbidities such as depression and anxiety.

Mary Gallagher, Nurse

Mary Gallagher, a nurse practitioner in Burbank, CA, uses her experience as a student in Cuba and Mexico to communicate with Spanish-speaking families. She plans to use her REACH training to improve her ability to diagnose mental health concerns, manage medications in partnership with in-house counseling services, and apply for certification as a primary care mental health specialist.

Nydia Hernandez Santana, MD

As a developmental pediatrician in Long Island, NY, Nydia Hernandez Santana, MD, serves as the medical home for children with mental health issues. Her fluency in Spanish enables her to establish easy rapport with Latinx families, with whom she works to break down taboos against mental health care. She will use her REACH training to become the go-to resource in her clinic for psychopharmacology.

Lauren Melman, MD

Lauren Melman, MD, works as a pediatrician in a clinic in rural CT. She will use her training to contribute to her practice’s efforts to incorporate mental health screening into acute care (not just wellness visits), to set aside time specifically for mental health, and to institute a follow-up system. Her experience living in China and in Ecuador taught her to consider patients’ perspectives and cultures.

Pedro Orta, MD

Pedro Orta, MD, is a pediatrician in Los Angeles who uses his own experience as the child of immigrants and a gay man in a conservative community to understand the struggles and successes of immigrant families. In an area where child psychiatric services are often out of financial reach, he wants to provide first-line mental health services and train others in his primary care practice.

Catherine Pourdavoud, MD

Catherine Pourdavoud, MD, is a pediatric resident in Oakland, CA, a city with many homeless encampments–including one across the street from her clinic. Concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of low-income patients, she wants to expand her confidence and skill in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions and to share her new knowledge with colleagues and patients.

Melissa Simkol, MD

A pediatric resident in Philadelphia, Melissa Simkol, MD, is concerned about the lack of mental health care in the urban clinics where she has worked and plans to share her REACH learning with colleagues. Among other topics, she wants to learn to distinguish conduct disorders–often diagnosed by people who are not mental health professionals–from behavior due to social circumstances affecting BIPOC patients.

2020 REACH Scholarship Recipients

We are thrilled to have doubled the number of practitioners who get a full scholarship to attend The REACH Institute’s Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program this year. All 10 of these scholarship recipients will attend virtual trainings in fall 2020.

Alicia Adams, MD

Alicia Adams, MD, describes herself as “a community-based family doc with a passion for mental health.” Her safety-net clinic in rural central Washington is three hours from the nearest mental health center, which has a long waiting list for Medicaid patients. Though she has become “reasonably comfortable” in treating adults with mental health issues, she wants to learn to help younger patients too.

Raquel Botto, MD

Raquel Botto, MD, is a family physician in a Toronto clinic where 90% of the families are refugees. Parents and children alike suffer from mental health issues resulting from trauma and displacement; income, language, and lack of access are barriers to care. Dr. Botto plans to use her ability to speak Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, languages common in the clinic’s population, to treat young patients’ mental health issues.

Moshe Kupferstein, DO

Moshe Kupferstein, DO, is a pediatrician in a clinic in Monroe, NY, most of whose patients are on Medicaid. From the beginning, his practice has included a mental health focus. He wrote, “Reassuring parents that a child’s OCD doesn’t make them a bad parent, following up on school issues — those are factors that . . . take time to do right. But that’s why we became doctors.”

Rayanne Lee-House, MD

Rayanne Lee-House, MD, is a pediatrician in New Orleans. Losing her teenage nephew to suicide spurred her interest in helping young people with mental health issues. She notes that “the wait time to see a mental health therapist can be a hindrance to care” and that she is in a good position to treat her patients because she has already established rapport with them.

Joanne Martin, NP

Joanne Martin, NP, works in a child development center in New York City and has served as adjunct faculty for several nursing programs. She wants use her REACH training to improve outcomes for her own patients, share her knowledge with colleagues, and educate parents and the public about the benefits of early mental health intervention.

Amber Pendleton, MD

Amber Pendleton, MD, is a pediatrician and clinical professor in the University of Louisville’s primary care clinic, which has been integrating a mental health focus. She says that the REACH program would “hugely impact” training for physicians, residents, and medical students; “we have struggled find a curriculum that helps us take care of the intense needs of our diverse, urban families of color.”

Andrea Ryan, NP

Andrea Ryan, NP, works in a Chicago-area hospital, where she cites “a desperate need” for pediatric mental health care. The wait is so long that many patients never are seen. NP Ryan said that her own family history of mental illness helps her understand patients’ needs. She looks forward to being able to screen for behavioral and mental health issues.

Jessica Vang, NP

Jessica Vang, NP, works in a pediatric primary care clinic in Minneapolis. She says, “My experience growing up in the Hmong community significantly contributes to my understanding of diverse mental health perspectives.” She hopes to use her knowledge from our program to “normalize conversations about mental health” and help patients who otherwise might have to wait months to see a psychiatrist.

Gita Viswam, MD

Gita Viswam, MD, is the sole pediatrician in a safety net clinic in the Dallas area. Herself the child of immigrants, Dr. Viswam understands the stresses facing her immigrant patients. But empathy is not enough. “I am compelled to educate myself on the most effective ways to support and treat them,” she wrote, in order to “contribute to improved mental health” for new Americans.

Gul-e-Shehwar Zahid, MD

Gul-e-Shehwar Zahid, MD, is a pediatrician at safety net clinic in a rural community in central California where psychiatrists are rare. As a child and young adult in Karachi, Pakistan, Dr. Zahid saw how behavioral issues often resulted from trauma, family dysfunction, or learning disabilities. She wrote, “My background helps me understand the unique needs and mental health perspectives of the patients and families I serve.”

2019 REACH Scholarship Recipients

The REACH Scholarship will enable these five clinicians to participate in the Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program this fall. Three days of intensive in-person training followed by six months of biweekly case-based phone consultations will teach them to assess, diagnose, and treat common mental health issues among their young patients–thanks to you.

These five clinicians were carefully chosen from among 22 worthy applicants. All work in urban settings, where at least 75% of their patients receive Medicaid.

Maria Arroyave, MD

Maria Arroyave, MD, is a behavioral pediatrician who has set up her own practice in Orlando, FL, in order to continue to serve her patients in the wake of Florida’s privatization of children’s medical services. Maria has years of continuing medical education and practice in behavioral health care. She hopes to learn more “so I can see a larger population of mental health patients … and learn newer techniques and state-of-the-art psychopharmacology for them.”

Lori Bennett, NP

Lori Bennett, NP, says that many of the children she sees in her clinic in Ann Arbor, MI, present with mental health issues. She also sees patients in family homeless shelters. She said, “Being able to assess and provide guidance and treatment in a health clinic that they already feel comfortable in and in a timely manner is one less barrier to getting the help they need.” Patients in the shelters can transition to her clinic so they receive seamless care.

Elaine Coldren, MD

Elaine Coldren, MD, is a newly minted pediatrician at Erie Family Health Centers in Chicago, Illinois. Most of her patients’ families speak languages other than English, which means they have trouble accessing medical care. Elaine, who speaks fluent Spanish, wants to be able to treat her Spanish-speaking patients for anxiety and depression so “they can receive treatment in a timely manner from someone who already knows them and their family.”

Sarah Hahn, MD

Sarah Hahn, MD, is a pediatrician in a federally qualified health center in Chicago. Citing the barriers to outpatient mental health care faced by low-income families, Sarah wrote, “If I could … feel competent to intervene in mental health issues on the spot, I could provide immediate services to our patients at a fragile time, with an increased likelihood of follow up because it is occurring in an environment already familiar to them. This would surely improve quality of mental health care for patients in this community.”

LeKia Parker, MSW/LCSW-E

LeKia Parker, MSW/LCSW-E, is a social worker in a specialty clinic for children with chronic illnesses in Norfolk, VA. She notes that her practice sees most patients more often than their PCP does. She expects the REACH training to help her recognize early symptoms of mental health issues and thereby decrease hospital admissions. She said the training “will provide me with an opportunity to get the latest techniques and collaborate with other professionals to see what is working and not working in our practice.”

You can provide better mental health care for thousands of low-income children and teens by donating to The REACH Institute Scholarship Fund. Thank you for your support!


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