Of 117 doctors associated with Twin Cities Orthopedics, only nine are women.
What are the chances that two of them went to Saint-Benoît College?
One hundred percent if you ask Drs. Amy Moeller ’03 (Shogren) and Maria (Carrow) Ryan ’06.
They also beat the odds to become an orthopedic surgeon and a sports doctor, respectively. Of more than 19,000 active orthopedic surgeons in the United States, less than 6% were women — the lowest ratio of any specialty — according to the latest survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges. And, of nearly 2,900 sports doctors, barely a quarter (27%) were women.
“Orthopedics is known to be extremely male-dominated,” said Moeller, who majored in natural sciences at Saint Ben’s before going on to medical school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and completing her residency. at the U of M-Twin Cities. “I think there are misconceptions about what it takes to be an orthopedic surgeon. It’s like you have to be a big, raw football player with a size 18 neck. If you’re replacing a hip or fix a femur, you use hammers and drills and people think you have to be big and strong to do these things.
Ryan, who majored in biology before following the same medical school path as Moeller, said the expansion of women’s varsity and professional sports — something that’s been a long time coming in the wake of Title IX, which became law 50 years ago – helped open doors in sports medicine.
“Primary care sports medicine is still male-dominated, but more and more women are getting into it,” Ryan said. “There are more opportunities for women because there are more female athletes now. It’s an easier path than 15 years ago for a woman to pursue what I’m doing.
Besides just being good doctors, Moeller and Ryan are additionally unique in that they were among 11 TCO doctors (including five women) recently appointed to the Minnesota Monthly annual list of top doctors for 2022. The list includes 1,008 names, all from 11 counties in Minneapolis-St. The Paul metropolitan area as well as Olmstead County – home of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Physicians must be nominated by their peers from the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, recognized for their expertise, and their selection is independent of any advertising or inducement.
Moeller’s passion for helping others heal came from his own wounds
Moeller grew up in St. Cloud and graduated from Apollo High School. She participated in Girl Scout camps and basketball at Saint Ben’s. While injuries set back his prep career, they also ignited a slow fuse to what would become a lifelong passion. She first came to CSB with the intention of becoming a physiotherapist.
She took sports medicine classes, which she said she fell in love with during the January term – a 15-day course that bridged the fall and spring semesters at CSB and Saint John’s University. until 2000, and also felt a change her second year when she took a human anatomy class with Manuel Campos, a biology professor who serves as an advisor to students interested in medical school. The experiences led Moeller to reconsider his career path.
“I studied abroad my sophomore year because I had that ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ moment,” Moeller said. “When I came back, I committed to do medicine and my first year was full of prerequisites for medical school: organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry… I packed a lot in a short time.
“The human anatomy class was part of the impetus for my change because I loved it,” Moeller added. “Many of our teachers were so engaged, motivated and passionate about their careers that it spurred you on in the same way. Mentorship has a strong bearing on future career choice, not only in college, but also in medical school. The teachers at CSB and SJU allowed me to take on challenges, but were always available for advice. This preparation was essential to my success in medical school. Often when we started a course, the first few weeks consisted mainly of reviewing information that I had already learned in Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s.
After two years of clinical residency in Minneapolis, she continued to migrate to orthopedics and sports medicine rotations. She completed a one-year fellowship in hand and microvascular surgery at the University of Utah, then returned to the U of M to practice as an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. She joined TCO in 2018, and now practices in Burnsville and Edina, and would like nothing better 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 is married to a Johnnie and has a 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. “I am forever grateful for my experiences at CSB and SJU. It’s hard to stay connected during medical school and residency. Then you start a practice and a family and realize you’ve lost touch. For the past two years, my husband and I have been able to return to campus with our children. On a loop, my daughter attended a theater camp in Saint Ben’s last summer. I feel like home when I’m back on campus…so many great memories.
Ryan channeled his athletic interest into sports medicine
Ryan came to CSB from Marshall, where she played on back-to-back state champion women’s basketball teams and volleyball teams that also went to the state. She came to Saint Ben’s to major in biology, knowing she wanted to go into medicine, and made the difficult choice 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 being emotional on the first day of basketball tryouts and feeling like I should be there – but knowing I was at a point where I had to focus on academics .”
One of her first courses, however, saw her gain extensive experience in learning sports medicine, which became her minor.
“From my first day of college, I learned what you could do with a career in sports medicine,” Ryan said. “There was a panel of people including physiotherapists and occupational therapists, coaches, people who run their own gyms and a sports doctor. I didn’t even know being that type of doctor was an option. I knew you could be an internist or become a family doctor or a surgeon, but here was someone telling me that I could take care of athletes, treat injuries and help them recover, and be a doctor. I was so intrigued.
Under the guidance of Don Fischer, Chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies, Ryan became a certified trainer and worked with athletes on injury prevention and in the CSB training room. This experience and his instruction in biology from Campos, Professor Dave Mitchell, and others made for a smooth transition into medical school at UMD.
“I only had 50 people in my classes my first two years there,” Ryan said. “It was like being at Saint Ben’s, and I felt very well prepared – more so than I think some of the students who came there from the big public schools. At Saint Ben’s, we were really hands-on, had intense labs, and more attention from teachers. They were very helpful with the medical school application process and did a great job making sure our applications looked good and preparing us for interviews. I was set up for success.
She completed a family medicine residency at the University of Minnesota, then added a year-long sports medicine fellowship at the University of Connecticut. Later, she 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 be a volunteer doctor with the Minnesota State High School League and the Twin Cities Marathon, in addition to medical tents for many local races and events. Like Moeller, she wants to show future women that they can also find a career in sports medicine. Of the 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 because it worked so well for her.
“I was just at Saint Ben’s for our 20e class reunion and reconnected after having kids and being so involved in my education,” said Ryan, who is married and has 6-year-old twins – a boy and a girl. “I continue to build on what I learned at CSB. I was just shy to get a minor in Philosophy and Theology and I’m always grateful for the perspective these courses provide. It was the best and most complete preparation for what I wanted to do – to be the best doctor I could be.
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