Impact in Education: Tanya Custer and Kim Michael

From left, Kim Michael and Tanya Custer

Kim Michael and Tanya Custer are two of the recipients of the Office of Academic Affairs 2017 Impact in Education Awards. They will receive the Innovative Practices in Education Award.

Innovative Practices in Education

This award recognizes an individual who demonstrates ingenuity, courage and creativity in teaching including innovations in use of educational technology, experiential learning, adoption of simulation and creative use of the classroom, as well as an engaging presentation style.

  • Name: Kim Michael
  • Title:
    • Anderson Professor
    • Director, Diagnostic Medical Sonography Education
    • Associate Director, Interprofessional Academy of Educators
    • Department of Medical Imaging & Therapeutic Sciences
  • Joined UNMC: 2001
  • Hometown: Bayard, Neb.
  • Name: Tanya Custer
  • Title:
    • Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Imaging & Therapeutic Sciences
    • Distance Education Coordinator, Department of Medical Imaging & Therapeutic Sciences
  • Joined UNMC: 2006
  • Hometown: Grand Island, Neb.

You are the recipients of the Innovative Practices in Education Award. How has innovation played a part in your teaching career?
Being in the field of medicine, and specifically medical imaging, innovation is a part of what we do. We have always tried to be innovative in our teaching by creating interactive spaces for students, running scan labs and simulations, flipping the classroom, etc. With the acquisition of the anatomage table in spring 2014, we were able to take this innovation to a new level. It was an exciting time on campus, and we both took full advantage of the resources around us. From being part of the Apple Initiative, to mentoring a student in the first e-Learning RFA, to working in the iEXCEL hub on the iWall . . . all of these innovative resources and the people we’ve worked with have helped us grow as educators and explore the use of innovation in our on-campus and online courses.

Describe your proudest moment as an educator.
We both agree that winning this campus-wide award and being acknowledged for the innovative work that we have done ranks at the top of our proudest moments as educators.

What advice would you give other faculty members who want to have an impact in education?
“New teachers, please do not be fooled. Behind that ‘polished’ educator is a constantly-questioning, often self-doubting, always-improving person who knows there is a lifetime of room to grow” -John Stevens‏ (@Jstevens009, Dec. 13, 2017)

This was a quote on Twitter last month. Teaching is truly an ever-evolving adventure. There is always room for improvement, growth and innovation. Start small, say yes to new opportunities, find a fellow educator with similar interest and then take advantage of the resources around you. The library, the Interprofessional Academy of Educators, Faculty Development, the e-Learning program and the Interprofessional Experiential Center for Enduring Learning are excellent resources for faculty who want to have an impact on education. We are fortunate to work at an institution that supports innovation and education, a perfect combination for influencing the future of health professions education.

Do you have a favorite quote or philosophy on teaching?

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” – John Dewey, 1916.

Our teaching philosophies stem from both our experiences as clinicians and faculty members and our dedication to lifelong learning. This teaching philosophy aligns well with the philosophy of the Interprofessional Academy for Educators at UNMC. One of the primary goals of the IAE is to bring a new way of thinking and teaching to the university using the latest technology, new learning methods, less lecturing, more simulation and experiential learning. We have both striven to incorporate these ways of thinking into our classrooms for many years, focusing less on memorization of material and more on student engagement, critical thinking and collaborative problem solving. We have demonstrated this teaching philosophy within the classroom using various innovative teaching methods including the use of the flipped learning approach, the creation and implementation of 53 case-based E-Learning modules and the incorporation of the anatomage virtual dissection table into the medical imaging curriculum. We were honored to be nominated and to receive this award and we look forward to continuing this innovative practice in the years to come.


  1. Cindy Skarda says:


  2. Sandy Williamson says:

    Congratulations! Both of you are deserving of such a prestigious award. When I was still working for the Youth Learning Center, I always looked forward to our sessions. Your enthusiasm and love for your careers was evident.

  3. Peggy Moore says:

    Congratulations Tanya and Kim on being recognized for embracing new tools for enhancing teaching and learning! You are great partners in education at UNMC.

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