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Center for Innovative Learning

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Faculty & Staff

Amar P. Patel, DHSc, MS, NRP

Amar Patel is the Director of the Center for Innovative Learning at WakeMed Health & Hospitals.  Dr. Patel is responsible for integrating technology-based educational programs to include human patient simulation, healthcare gaming, hybrid education, and online learning applications.  With over 20 years of experience in the fire and EMS services, disaster medicine, and critical care transport as a firefighter, a paramedic, a researcher, and an educator, Amar’s passion for improving quality and patient safety is seen in his work through process improvements and engagements across the organization. 

Prior to WakeMed, he served as an Advanced Life Support Program Instructor and the Project Manager of Medical Simulation for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park. In this role he was responsible for developing new curriculum, as well as integrating medical simulation into all of the Advanced Life Support (ALS) Programs. He was the lead developer of simulation scenarios and technical simulation expert at the local and state level.  Dr. Patel has taught numerous instructor courses, including ones offered on an international circuit. He has presented at several conferences, including JEMS EMS Today, the Human Patient Simulation Conference, SIMGhosts, and the Air Medical Transport Conference.

While educating EMS providers all over the state, Dr. Patel also maintained clinical competency with the Baltimore County Fire Department in Baltimore, Maryland as a national registered paramedic, hazardous materials technician, and a firefighter.  Currently, Amar maintains over 17 certifications to include a HAM radio operator's license and a certified flight communicator.

Dr. Patel is currently involved in simulation-based research projects that focus on integration and implementation of simulation and how process changes affect the healthcare delivery model. He has contributed to numerous simulation articles on education return on investment, administration, sustainability, just-in-time training, and simulation center design, and is an internationally recognized thought leader on simulation-based education and ROI.

Dr. Patel holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in computer music from Goucher College, a Master's of Science in Emergency Health Services Education from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and a doctorate in health sciences from Nova Southeastern University.

Graham Snyder, MD
Medical Director

Dr. Snyder serves as the Medical Director for the Center for Innovative Learning, providing physician oversight and clinical leadership for the SIM Center. 

He specializes in emergency and critical care medicine and has practiced full-time as an emergency physician at WakeMed Health & Hospitals since 2002.  Dr. Snyder also serves as the Associate Program Director for the University Of North Carolina Department Of Emergency Medicine.

He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and also holds an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University. 

As the medical director of the Center for Innovative Learning, he is able to combine his engineering and medical training to teach all levels of health care providers the art and science of emergency care. 

Brendan C. Berry, MD, FACEP, CMTE, EMT-P
Assistant Medical Director of Emergency Medical Services & Critical Care Transport

Dr. Berry is a residency-trained, board-certified emergency physician and a Fellow of the American Board of Emergency Physicians. He has been practicing in the WakeMed system since 2001.

He earned his undergraduate degree in physics at Princeton University, and pursued graduate work in both biochemistry and materials science before attending medical school at the University of Maryland. During medical school, he volunteered as an EMT with the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad in Wheaton, Maryland and trained to become an instrument-rated private pilot flying out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

He trained in emergency medicine at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, where he worked as chief resident before settling in Raleigh. Here he continues to be an enthusiastic educator and holds an academic appointment as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine through the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Combining his passions for EMS and aviation, he serves as medical director for WakeMed Mobile Critical Care Services, where he has been working to enhance medical control, continuing education, and performance improvement since 2009. He is a member of both the Wake County EMS Peer Review Committee and the North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians EMS Committee, and his research interests include the application of air medical services in the regional reduction of time to direct PCI in STEMI and the utilization of emerging technologies in the practice of out-of-hospital medicine.

As assistant medical director for the WakeMed Center for Innovative Learning, he integrates his basic science background with his EMS experience and his interest in education to expand and develop the active knowledge base of out-of-hospital medical providers throughout the region.

Courtney H. Mann, MD
Assistant Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Dr. Mann serves as the Assistant Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine for the Center for Innovative Learning, providing physician oversight and clinical leadership for pediatric emergency medicine activities in the SIM Center.

She specializes in emergency medicine and pediatric emergency medicine and has practiced full-time as an emergency physician at WakeMed Health & Hospitals since 2001.  Dr. Mann also served as Medical Director of WakeMed Health and Hospitals' Children's Emergency Department from 2004-2011.  She currently serves as Clinical Associate Professor and Program Director for the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship Program at the University Of North Carolina Department at Chapel Hill.

She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and finished a residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati.  She also completed a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. 

As the assistant medical director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine of the Center for Innovative Learning, she is able to contribute both her teaching experience and depth of knowledge to the program.

Tara Bastek, MD, MPH
Assistant Medical Director of Neonatalogy


Dr. Tara Bastek is a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist who joined WakeMed Physician Practices - Neonatology in 2004. 

She received her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., and completed her internship and residency at the University of North Carolina Hospitals.  She then went on to complete her fellowship in Newborn Medicine/Neonatology at Boston Children's Hospital through Harvard Medical School.  While working on her fellowship research project, she earned her master's degreee in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health and completed a fellowship in medical ethics at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Bastek is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.  She has served as Chair of the WakeMed Ethics Committee since 2008 and enjoys continuing ethical discourse within a large insitution.  Additionally she serves as an assistant medical director of Neonatology at the Center for Innovative Learning and sits on its Steering Committee.

Christine O'Neill, BSN, RN-BC
Simulation Education Specialist

Christine assists in development of internal simulation programming.  She is responsible for providing simulation-based education to all customers external to the health system.  Her responsibilities also include developing simulation programs, creating educational objectives, developing scenarios, ensuring simulation provides a safe learning environment and implementing all appropriate aspects of technology in to an educational program.

She brings more than 20 years of clinical nursing experience in the fields of emergency and intensive care medicine.  At WakeMed, she has worked as a nurse in thePediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Children's Emergency Department. Her vast pediatric experience also includes pediatric transport while working at Georgetown University Hospital.

Christine maintains her certifications as an ACLS, PALS, BLS, and PHTLS Instructor, as well as a TNCC provider.  She received her ADN in NY and her BSN from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

Cindy Rice, BSN, RN-BC, CPN
Simulation Education Specialist

Cindy has been a pediatric nurse for over 15 year, a nurse educator for more than 5 years, and a supervisor/educator for 5 years.   Her clinical experience includes pediatrics, PICU, and pediatric critical care transport.  She is a certified pediatric nurse and has completed her certification in nursing professional development. Mrs. Rice received her BSN from UNC Chapel Hill and was a previous American Heart Association (AHA) Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) director, and is currently a WakeMed PALS Training Center Faculty member.  She is also an AHA Basic Life Support instructor and an Advanced Cardiac Life Support Provider. 


Melanie Doster, MSN, RN, CNE
Simulation Education Specialist

Melanie has over 5 years experience as a clinical nurse in the emergency department setting and healthcare experience in psychiatric crisis and hospice. She is a Certified Nurse Educator with a MSN specializing in Nursing Education from Jacksonville University.

Mrs. Doster has additional experience in clinical instruction of associate degree nursing students. Prior education includes a BSN from Barton College and a BA in Psychology from Elon University. She is a current ACLS instructor and holds provider status in PALS, BLS, and TNCC. 


Karyn Aberts, MFA, MA
Learning Link Specialist

Karyn is the Learning Link Specialist that provides support for WakeMed's learning management and eLearning development systems. Mrs. Aberts has worked with several different learning management systems both in the corporate and healthcare setting which has allowed her to work with multiple systems to include overseeing implementation. She brings great deal of knowledge to this role to create a better user learning experience. Mrs. Aberts is also an instructional designer specializing in eLearning and learning technologies.

Mrs. Aberts holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Theatre from Radford University, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Stage Management from the University of Alabama, and a Master of Art (MA) in Educational Media and Instructional Technologies from Appalachian State University. 


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