Master's of Medical Anatomy program sees students move forward

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | March 13, 2019

Image with caption: From left, Shantaram Joshi, Ph.D., Elizabeth Stenvers, Brent Moravec, Austin Svec and Karen Gould, Ph.D.

From left, Shantaram Joshi, Ph.D., Elizabeth Stenvers, Brent Moravec, Austin Svec and Karen Gould, Ph.D.

In the fall of 2014, UNMC's new Master's of Medical Anatomy program accepted its first cohort of students.

This year, students from that first cohort are graduating from professional health care programs, including three students who will be matching Friday from UNMC's College of Medicine.

"The purpose of the program is, for most students, as a stepping stone to professional school," said Karen Gould, Ph.D., program co-director. "Students that are on a path to professional school, they know what their goals are, and the program can help them get there and also be successful once they are there.

"For other students that perhaps are still exploring different career paths, the program gives them an opportunity to do that and at the same time be making progress toward those goals," she said. "And we've heard from students who have finished the program and gone on to various types of professional schools, that one of the intangibles they got from the program was that they knew they could handle what was thrown at them, that they had mastered that transition already to professional school. That's really empowering for students."

From that first cohort, Austin Svec and Brent Moravec are matching in radiology Friday, while Elizabeth Stenvers is being credentialed as a physician assistant. Medical student Charlie Treinen is matching in pediatrics, and Stephanie Cummings will complete PA school at Des Moines University in May.

"I had gone through a couple of applications to medical school and not gotten in, so I knew my resume needed something to help improve it," Svec said. "This was a good stepping stone and a way for me to prove my academic abilities as well as giving a good foundation for medical school."

"I could see the holes in my application," Stenvers said. "I changed my major in undergrad and so some of my science stuff wasn't quite up to par, and this program helped to round it all out and make it a solid application."

But the program also helped once graduates reached professional school. "It laid the foundation of knowledge directly, within the anatomy classes and the neuroanatomy, but it also taught you how to study for professional-level courses," Svec said.

"It helped me choose my future career path in radiology, because I liked cross-sectional anatomy so much," Moravec said.

The program assigns a small group of students to each faculty member, who serves as an adviser and might help work on applications and essays. "We work with the students on various components of their application -- what I call 'application management' -- how you put all the pieces together to put your best foot forward," said Dr. Gould, who is vice chair of graduate education in the College of Medicine and associate professor, genetics, cell biology and anatomy.

"That was very helpful," Moravec said. "I don't consider myself a strong writer and the personal statement part of the application for medical school, we spent a lot of time on that. That was very helpful."

The first cohort of students became quite close, said co-director Shantaram Joshi, Ph.D., who is professor and research scientist, genetics, cell biology and anatomy.

"They helped each other, and they did a fantastic job," he said.

There were 16 students in the first cohort, and Svec, Moravec and Stevers said they all are still close.

"Almost all of us got together outside school," Svec said. "In our class, there are five people in medical school within a year of each other, and we still hang out all the time."

That peer support is important, Dr. Gould said.

"It's a high-stress environment and to have that peer support, especially if you have the opportunity to take that with you to the next step, can really be beneficial."


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Kim Latacha
March 13, 2019 at 10:21 AM

Congratulations to this fantastic group of students. It has been a pleasure to be a small part of your education here at UNMC and we are extremely proud that you were among the first cohort of MMA students. We wish you all the best on Match Day and in your future careers.