The Master of Science in Medical Sciences (MAMS) program is one of the oldest and most successful special Master’s programs in the United States. Since it began in 1985, MAMS has selectively identified students who are both driven and dedicated to pursuing a career in medicine. The program has been largely successful in helping over 2,000 students gain admission to US medical schools. Learn more.
Hear from current students and graduates on how the Master’s in Medical Sciences Program (MAMS) prepared them for medical school admission and how it helped shape their career goals in medicine.
What brought you to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM)?
I came to BUSM in 1998 as a doctoral student in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Prior to this, I spent ten years at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) working as a physical therapist and five years teaching in the Physical Therapy Program at Simmons College where I received my Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, I participated in clinical research in the Physical Therapy Department at MGH as part of my Master of Science degree program. As high school student I took a course call “Medical Biology;” it sparked my interest in human anatomy and physiology. I also wanted a career path that allowed me to work with others. Pursing a degree in physical therapy allowed me to study subject areas that interested me and was a career that allowed me to work with people.
Although I enjoyed my work and the clinical research I participated in, I craved being involved in basic science research and wanted to expand my role in an academic setting. As I researched Ph.D. programs, the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at BUSM stood out; it strongly matched my interests. I was particularly interested in the research on neuronal response to axonal injury and the effects of advancing age on this process. I was also excited by the course offering and felt right at home with the Department’s teaching mission.
After completing my Ph.D. in 2005, I was offered a faculty position. It was an easy decision to stay. A major component of this new role included assuming responsibility for teaching the DMD-I students at the Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Teaching professional students was something I had previously enjoyed at Simmons College; taking on this role was a great fit. The students are motivated and engaged in their education; they are a great group to work with.
What is your role within your department?
Most of my time is spent in formal teaching activities and working with students. I am fortunate to work with the DMD-I students at Goldman School of Dental Medicine during their entire first academic year. During the fall semester, I serve as the Course Director for Anatomical Sciences-I, a course that covers the topics of Histology and Neuroanatomy. During the spring semester, I work with these same students in Anatomical Sciences-II, a course that covers the topics of Embryology and Gross Anatomy.
At the Medical School, I teach in the Medical Gross Anatomy course. I give several lectures and assist students in the laboratory during the Back & Limb and Head & Neck sections of the course. This year I also stepped-in and served as the Graduate Director of the M.A. Vesalius Program. In this role, I assumed a number of responsibilities including advising and mentoring students, curriculum review, student issues, and admissions. In the Department, I also serve as a member of the Graduate Education Committee
Are you involved in any research at the moment?
I was initially interested in axonal injury and regeneration and the effect age has on the neuronal response, but I ended-up taking a very different research path. My research efforts have predominantly focused on the study of the neuropathology in autism and its relationship to the developmental timing of this disorder. Along with prior research documenting the timing and sequence of key developmental events such as neuronal proliferation, migration and synapse formation, our data has been useful in gaining insight into the timing of the pathology in the autistic brain. In recent years, however, teaching and advising responsibilities have filled my days. I have, however, begun work on two anatomically based research projects. Both of these projects integrate nicely with my interests and content that I am currently teaching.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of this job is spending time with and getting to know students. I teach about 300 students per year and, although I do not get to know each one, I really enjoy working one-on-one with students in the laboratory and during office hours. It is a bit cliché, but it is exciting to see a student finally “get it.” It doesn’t get old seeing students achieve and understand something that was once confusing and difficult to comprehend. I also love that every year brings a new group of students excited to be here and eager to learn. The students at BU are extremely hard working and dedicated to their studies; I think that is what any instructor hopes for.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Time! To balance teaching, advising, research and committee work is a challenge. It is great that there are so many opportunities to use different skill sets, but like many of my colleagues, I sometime have too much on my plate. On the positive side, however, I appreciate the flexibility of my work. I have the ability to prioritize and manage my time to meet the demands of my career and family life.
How do you like to spend your time outside of BUSM?
I love spending time with my family. My husband and I have nine- and eleven-year-old boys who both love sports. Thus, much of each weekend is spent on various sport fields: soccer, lacrosse and baseball. As a family we enjoy skiing, hiking and camping. When I have time to myself, I like to sneak out for a run.
Do you have any advice for current students or prospective students?
Enjoy the experience! I came back to school after several years of being in the work force and I brought with me new appreciation for learning. After spending years focusing on patient care and teaching, I was grateful for my “student status.” It afforded me time – lots of time – to read, study, explore new material, and challenge myself to think in a new way. There are many opportunities at BU, both academic and community involvement. Use your time as a student to explore, and then dive-in! Take advantage of opportunities for collaborative relationships with faculty on research efforts, teaching experiences and community efforts. Students will get out of their experience what they put into it.
Director of the Genetic Counseling Program in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS)
What do you think of when you think of your dream job? For MaryAnn Campion, Director of the Genetic Counseling Program in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS), it is leadership, healthcare, and teaching. An active member of the GMS community, she continually influences her students to pursue successful careers in an evolving field while setting an example for her colleagues on various administrative committees with her dedication and warm personality.
What kind of career did you have before coming to BUSM?
Before starting at Boston University, I worked as a prenatal genetic counselor at the Greenwood Genetic Center in South Carolina. My work involved prenatal testing and patients with high-risk pregnancies. I enjoyed my job, but ultimately, I wanted to be the director of a graduate program, where I could continue seeing patients in the clinic, but also begin teaching. A few years ago, GMS wanted to start a genetic counseling program, and a position opened that would allow me to expand into a teaching/director role.
Can you tell me about the genetic counseling program?
The GMS Genetic Counseling program is one of thirty-two programs in the country, and the only program in New England offered on a medical campus. We receive around 150 applications a year and are fortunate to have access to exceptional and dynamic students. Throughout the two year program, students take courses, complete research projects, and train through fieldwork experience so that they have a smooth transition into the workforce. Through surveys and interviews, we are continuously asking current students what is and is not working and asking alumni about their post-grad experience. This open-door policy really allows students to shape the program and influence the curriculum.
Besides director of the Genetic Counseling program, what other roles do you have at BUSM?
Approximately twenty percent of my time is spent at Boston Medical Center working in the OB/GYN department. The other eighty percent is divided between the students, teaching, and my administrative roles. I work primarily with the students in my program, but I have also served as a thesis reader for students in other programs and give lectures for the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine program. There are numerous committees that I serve on both within GMS and nationally. Recently, I collaborated on a grant with the School of Public Health that developed a tool for tracking patients’ family histories.
What are the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of your job?
The most challenging job is trying to stay up-to-date with all the advancements in my field. Genetic and genomic medicine is constantly changing. I often feel like I am teaching a “moving target” because a method or concept I explain today may be obsolete by the time my student graduates. When teaching, I focus on telling the students where and how they can find an answer, which will help them more in their careers than simply memorizing facts.
The most rewarding part of my job is definitely the students. They are my extended family. Every morning, I find that I am excited to go to work because I feel that I am making a difference in the lives of my students.
How do you like to spend your time outside of BUSM?
I am so grateful for my family. We have a “live in the moment” perspective, and appreciate the little things that balance out our lives. We enjoy being outdoors, and we do a lot of cycling, running, and camping together. I have two young children, so there is never a dull moment!
Do you have any advice for current students or prospective students?
I am currently working on my doctorate, and I wish I had the following advice when I was working on my Masters: Be present and engaged, and try to not lose sight of what matters most in life. Whether in your studies or personal life, it is important to remember not to sweat the small stuff. This time around, I can truly appreciate my graduate program for what it is, and not just the degree I will receive. Putting aspects of your life into perspective can really help you see the bigger picture.
GMS Student and Postdoc Art Exhibit
Paintings and Photographs Presented by
Sarah Abuali, Luis Olmos Serrano, and Nora Nakshabendi
Please join the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences
For Our 4th Student and Postdoc Art Exhibit
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Interested in applying to graduate school in the biomedical sciences? Our knowledgeable faculty and staff are happy to speak with you about the opportunities available for master’s and doctoral degree programs at Boston University’s School of Medicine, Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. Register for our free Virtual Graduate Fairs or visit us at locations near you!
Local and National:
Idealist Fair Boston: September 29th
CareerEco Virtual Graduate Fair: September 30th and October 22nd
SACNAS National Conference, Los Angeles, CA: October 16th-18th
ABRCMS National Conference, San Antonio, TX: November 12th-15th
Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine Webinar: September 16th and October 24th
Oral Health Sciences – 12:00 EST -January 12, 2015
Oral Health Sciences – 12:00 EST- February 25, 2015
Healthcare Emergency Management: All begin at 12:30pm at 650 Albany Street, Room X140.
Bioimaging: All begin at 12:30pm at 650 Albany Street, Room X140.
Biomedical Forensic Sciences: All begin at 1:00pm at 72 East Concord Street, Room R806.
November 10th (4-5pm)