VA Quality Scholars

The VA Quality Scholars program is known for its robust research and quality improvement programs and close collaborations with Vanderbilt University and its vast array of resources.  We leverage resources within our VA, across the VA nationally, and those available through our academic affiliate (Vanderbilt), including the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, the Center for Health Services Research,  the Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research, the Center for Health Behavior and Health Education, the Department of Biomedical Informatics, the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, the Center for Surgical Quality and Outcomes Research, the Center for Quality Aging, the Schools of Management and Education, and the nationally recognized Precision Medicine Initiative and Population Health Initiative, among many others.

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Current VA Quality Scholars

First Year Fellows

Rick  Chelsea Rick, DO

Mart  Matthew Mart, MD, MSCI

Matthew Mart, MD, MSCI is a pulmonary and critical care physician and Instructor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care at Vanderbilt. He received his B.A. in Biochemistry from Maryville College. He then went on to complete medical school and internal medicine training at the University of Kentucky. Following this, he finished a fellowship in pulmonary disease and critical care at Vanderbilt. During this time, he also completed the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. His research and quality improvement interests are focused on improving long-term outcomes in critically ill adults, including developing interventions to improve physical and cognitive function.

Kimpel  Christine Kimpel, BSN, RN, MA, PhD (c)

Christine Kimpel is a Registered Nurse, a PhD Candidate at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, and a first year Fellow in the VA Quality Scholars Program. Her clinical experiences with Palliative Care spurred her interest to explore determinants of Advance Care Planning. She earned her BSN (cum laude) and MA degrees from Kent State University. Her dissertation research focuses on identifying Age-Friendly Environment factors of Advance Care Planning among low-income, older adults. She plans to develop this program of research around the use of community-based participatory research approaches to reduce Advance Care Planning and Palliative Care inequities. Christine serves on the board of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association. Additionally, she is a member of the Iota at-Large chapter of Sigma Theta Tau and the Tennessee Nurses Association. At the VA, she is collaborating on the deployment of a quality metrics dashboard and assisting the Whole Health Initiative with their efforts to continue to fully integrate Whole Health into care.

Holt  Natalie Holt, PhD, MA

Natalie Holt, PhD, MA (she/her/hers) is a VAQS fellow at the Nashville VA. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and completed a predoctoral clinical psychology internship at the Medical College of Georgia and Charlie Norwood VA. Natalie's primary clinical and research interests focus on LGBTQ populations, particularly transgender and gender diverse (TGD) individuals. Her work centers on experiences of TGD communities in rural and underserved locales with the goal of improving access and quality of affirming, evidence-based behavioral health care.

Guidera  Amy Guidera, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CHWP

Dr. Amy Guidera is postdoctoral VAQS fellow with the Nashville VA, a board-certified family nurse practitioner of 10 years, and a registered nurse of 13 years. She is a three-time graduate of Belmont University and possesses a healthcare background in primary care, college health, urgent care, community health, pediatric emergency, and level I trauma critical care. Her research and quality improvement interests include sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention, screening, and treatment, public health frameworks and pandemic response, sentinel/adverse event investigation, moral injury in clinicians, pharmaceutical price capping, young adult healthcare, patient and provider advocacy, access to care and cost-effectiveness, implementation science with a focus on informatics, interprofessional care teams, full practice authority, and healthcare policy. Dr. Guidera is the Chair-elect of the American College Health Association’s Advanced Practice Clinicians Board and completed her DNP scholarly work on lowering the cost of screenings for STIs for college students on campus. She is currently working on her Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification, quality metric dashboard implementation and evaluation within the VA, and a cross-site collaborative evaluation of the Whole Health Program. She leads the first year VAQS fellows’ Scholars in Partnership (SiP) Committee.


Second Year Fellows

Rausch Laura Rausch, BS, MA, MD

McKenzie Roddy, PhD McKenzie Roddy, PhD

McKenzie K. Roddy, MS, PhD received her BS in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went on to complete her MS and PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. She completed her clinical internship at Baylor College of Medicine and collaborated with the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at the Houston Veteran Affairs Medical Center during her time there. Dr. Roddy's research program centers on leveraging technology to improve access to high quality mental health and behavioral medicine care. As a VA Quality Scholar, she focuses on increasing integration of medical, mental, and complementary care. 

Sarah Welch, DO, MA Sarah Welch, DO, MA

Sarah A. Welch, DO, MA is an Instructor in the Vanderbilt Department of PM&R and a fellow of the Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program. Her research interests lie in geriatric rehabilitative care as it applies to acute care, post-acute care, and transitions of care. She is passionate about delivering evidence-based practices to older adults and evaluating interventions to improve processes and patient outcomes.