2014 Diversity Fellowship Goes to Paramedic-Turned-Medical Student

Ariel Engelman.

Ariel Engelman

Published October 20, 2014 This content is archived.

Story by Suzanne Kashuba

For demonstrating commitment to diversity and inclusion, first-year medical student Ariel Engelman has been honored with the $20,000 2014 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellowship.


Award Includes Seat on Recruitment Committee

Awarded by the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement, the fellowship supports tuition costs over four years.

It also comes with a seat on the UB Medical Student and Resident Recruitment and Mentoring Committee, part of the Council on Inclusion in Medicine and Science.

Engelman was recognized during the medical school’s 2014 Honors Convocation on Sept. 27.

Paramedic Worked With Children, Families

After studying not-for-profit theater management at Brown University as an undergraduate, Engelman switched to a career goal she had always wanted to pursue: she enrolled in a paramedic certificate program at SUNY Cobleskill’s Center for Rural EMS Education.

It’s a profession she “grew up around,” says Engelman, who followed in the footsteps of her father, an emergency medical technician and firefighter.

For the past decade, Engelman was a paramedic in rural central New York and in Rhode Island. She worked in both rural and urban 911-response as well as adult and pediatric critical care transport.

Although the work was fulfilling, Engelman wanted “deeper knowledge of conditions and a greater scope of practice,” she says. She set her sights on medical school, completing prerequisite courses over several years while continuing her work as a paramedic.

She is leaning toward building on her experiences with children and families, and she may specialize in pediatric critical care.

Need for Access to Care in Rural Areas

Through her work in rural areas, Engelman saw first-hand how socioeconomic factors play into health care, affecting both access to care and patient and family interactions with the system.

She advocates giving rural populations “the same chance” as urbanites through better access to quality, community-based medical care.

Preventing Drug Overdose; Saving Lives

Through a public health program she co-founded, Engelman has already worked to prevent drug overdose and help save lives.

In Rhode Island — a state with one of the highest death rates from overdose in the country — she helped secure grant funding for NOPE (Naloxone and Overdose Prevention Education Program).

The interdisciplinary program engages volunteers from the state’s medical reserve corps (MRC) and disaster medical assistance team (DMAT) in training and awareness building.

A major emphasis has been training law enforcement personnel to recognize and respond to overdoses with the opioid antidote naloxone.

Within a month of training and equipping hundreds of state troopers, “the department documented its first overdose reversal by law enforcement in the state,” notes Engelman.

As a member of UB’s Class of 2018 — and throughout her medical career — Engelman says she plans to continue to work to effect positive change.