Saint Ben’s helped launch careers for two of Minnesota’s top doctors – CSB/SJU | Team Cansler

Of 117 physicians affiliated with Twin Cities Orthopedics, only nine are women.

What are the odds that two of them went to the College of Saint Benedict?

100% if you ask Drs. Amy Moeller ’03 (Shogren) and Maria (Carrow) Ryan ’06.

They also beat the odds of becoming an orthopedist or sports medicine doctor. Of more than 19,000 active orthopedic surgeons in the United States, less than 6% were women – the smallest proportion of any specialty – according to the latest Association of American Medical Colleges survey. And of almost 2,900 sports medicine doctors, hardly a quarter (27%) were women.

“Orthopaedics is known to be extremely male-dominated,” said Moeller, who majored in science at Saint Ben’s before attending medical school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and completing her residency at the U of M-Twin Cities graduated “I think there’s a misconception about what it means to be an orthopedist. It’s like having to be a big brute soccer player with an 18 neck circumference. When you replace a hip or fix a femur, you use hammers and drills, and people think you have to be big and strong to do those things. That really isn’t the case.”

Ryan, who majored in biology before following the same path as Moeller, said the expansion of women’s college and professional sports – something that was a long time coming after Title IX, which became law 50 years ago – helped open doors in sports medicine.

“Primary care sports medicine is still male-dominated, but there is a growing participation of women,” Ryan said. “There are more opportunities for women because there are more female athletes now. It’s easier for a woman to follow what I do than it was 15 years ago.”

Not only are Moeller and Ryan just good doctors, they are also unique in that they were among 11 TCO doctors (five of whom are women) recently added to the TCO Doctors list Minnesota monthly annual list of top physicians for 2022. The list includes 1,008 names, all from an 11-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area as well as Olmstead County – home of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Physicians must be nominated by their peers on the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, recognized for their expertise, and their selection is independent of advertising or inducement.

Moeller’s passion for helping others heal came from her own injuries

Moeller grew up in St. Cloud and graduated from Apollo High School. She attended Girl Scouts and basketball camps at Saint Ben’s. While injuries hampered her prep career, they also kindled a slow fuse for what would become a lifelong passion. She originally came to CSB with the intention of becoming a physical therapist.

She took courses in sports medicine, which she fell in love with in January semester – a 15-day course bridging fall and spring semesters at CSB and Saint John’s University through 2000, and also felt a shift in her sophomore year, when she took a course on human anatomy with Manuel Campos, a biology professor who serves as an advisor to students interested in medicine. The experiences prompted Moeller to reconsider her professional path.

“I studied abroad in my sophomore year because I had this moment where I don’t know what I’m doing,” Moeller said. “When I came back, I was determined to go to medical school, and my junior year was filled with medical school requirements: organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry… I put a lot into a short amount of time.

“The Human Anatomy course was part of the impetus for my move because I absolutely loved it,” added Moeller. “Many of our professors have been so dedicated, driven and passionate about their careers that it has driven them in a similar way. Mentoring has a powerful impact on future career choices, not only in college but also in medical school. The professors at CSB and SJU empowered me to overcome challenges but were always available for guidance. This preparation was crucial to my success in medical school. When we started a course, the first few weeks were mostly a repetition of the information I had already learned at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s.”

After two years of clinical training in Minneapolis, she transitioned back into the orthopedic and sports medicine rotations. She completed a year-long fellowship in hand and microvascular surgery at the University of Utah, then returned to U of M to practice as an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. Joining TCO in 2018 and now practicing in Burnsville and Edina, she would love nothing more than to see more women (and future bennies) join her ranks.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the education I received at Saint Ben’s,” said Moeller, who married a Johnnie and has a 7-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son. “I am infinitely grateful for my experiences at CSB and SJU. It’s difficult to stay connected during medical school and residency. Then you start a practice and a family and realize you’ve lost touch. In the last two years my husband and I have been able to return to campus with our children. Coming full circle, my daughter attended a theater camp at Saint Ben’s last summer. It just feels like home when I’m back on campus…so many fond memories.”

Ryan channeled her interest in sports into sports medicine

Ryan joined CSB from Marshall, where she played on back-to-back state champion basketball teams and state-going volleyball teams. She came to Saint Ben’s to study biology knowing she wanted to study medicine and made a difficult decision not to pursue athletics.

“It was a tough decision,” said Ryan, whose mother and a cousin attended CSB — and two sisters followed, including one who also became a doctor. “I remember on the first day of basketball tryouts I was emotional and felt like I was supposed to be out there — but I knew I was at a point where I needed to focus on the academic.”

However, one of her first courses led to extensive experience studying sports medicine, which became her minor.

“I learned what you could do with a career in sports medicine on my first day of college,” Ryan said. “There was a group of people including physical and occupational therapists, trainers, people who ran their own gyms and a sports medicine doctor. I didn’t even know being that kind of doctor was an option. I knew you could become an internist, go to general medicine, or become a surgeon, but here was someone who told me I could take care of athletes, treat injuries, and help them recover. and be a doctor. I was so intrigued.”

Under the direction of Don Fischer, Chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies, Ryan became a certified coach and worked with athletes on injury prevention and in the training room at CSB. This experience and her biology classes with Campos, Professor Dave Mitchell, and others made for a smooth transition to UMD’s medical school.

“I only had 50 people in my classes my first two years there,” Ryan said. “It was like Saint Ben’s and I felt very prepared – far more than I think some of the students who came there from big public schools did.” At Saint Ben’s we were really hands on, had intensive labs and more attention from the professors. They helped us a lot with our application to medical school and did a great job making sure our resumes looked good and preparing us for interviews. I was set for success.”

She completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Minnesota and then added a year-long fellowship in sports medicine to the University of Connecticut. She later worked for North Memorial in sports medicine and primary care before joining TCO in 2017. She is also currently an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, where she continues to teach residents and medical students.

Ryan continues to volunteer as a doctor with the Minnesota State High School League and the Twin Cities Marathon, in addition to doing medical tents for many local races and events. Like Moeller, she also wants to show future women that they can make a career in sports medicine. Of nearly four dozen specialties tracked by the AAMC, most currently have a higher percentage of female physicians. And Ryan thinks they can come from Saint Ben’s since it’s worked so well for them.

“Just stayed at Saint Ben’s for our 20th birthdayth Class reunion and reunion after having kids and getting so involved in my training,” said Ryan, who is married and has 6-year-old twins – a boy and a girl. “I continue to draw on what I learned at CSB. I came close to getting a philosophy and theology minor and am forever grateful for the perspective these courses offer. It was the best and most complete preparation for what I wanted to do – to be the best possible doctor.”

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