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The Two Year Advantage

Benefits of a Two-Year Curriculum

Jake Smith at Graduation ​​
"One strength of our program (among many) and why I chose the MSMHA program over others was the versatility of our second you want to get a PhD? Then your Capstone should develop your research skills. Do you want to go to medical school? Then your Capstone should be clinically relevant and you should work at the DAWN clinic. Are you not sure what you want to do yet? Then engage with the local community, do your electives with whatever program interests you, and do a Capstone project that develops multiple skills."
- Jake Smith, class of 2017

A tremendous strength of the Modern Human Anatomy program is the second year curriculum.  The 1st year core courses provide an academic and scientific foundation for exploration and abundant opportunities in the 2nd year curriculum.  The 2nd year is a time when our students blossom and transition from being students to becoming professionals and colleagues.  


 Benefits of the 2 Year Curriculum:


 Capstone Project

A primary focus in the MSMHA's second year curriculum is the 8-credit Capstone Project. The Capstone is a multi-semester experience that provides students with an opportunity to complete independent work resulting in a deliverable. Students may complete projects with clinicans and scientists within the School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, at University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and more. MSMHA faculty help connect students with capstone project mentors who can guide the student's work.

The Capstone Project provides a venue to take the anatomical sciences, imaging and modeling, and experimental design and research methods foundation of the 1st year curriculum to create a deliverable that can aid in a professional portfolio.

Visit our ANAT 6950, MSMHA Capstone Project, website for tons of information!​​​​​


 Electives Tailored to Career Goals

The 2nd year curriculum is designed for flexibility and to provide students with coursework in-line with their professional goals.

A sampling of elective courses for those interested in applying to professional schools includes: Cancer Biology, Tissue and Disease Mechanisms, Epidemiology, Health Equity, Overview of Immunology, Physiology, Fundamentals of Microbiology and Infectious Disease, and more. 

Students interested becoming educators can take advantage of coursework within CU-Denver's School of Education and Behavioral Health, as well as pursuing the MSMHA's Certificate in Anatomical Sciences Education

Those interested in industry, basic science research, or pursuing a PhD can choose from a huge variety of courses, including courses within our basic sciences PhD programs, the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship specialization, courses through Inworks, and classes such as Molecular Mechanisms of of Bacterial Disease, Statistics for the Basic Sciences, and research opportunities through Independent Study options.


 Opportunities at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is filled with opportunities for MSMHA students, and the 2nd year provides a flexible curriculum and time for students to take advantage of the amazing medical campus. The university is comprised of the School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, School of Public Health, Graduate School, College of Nursing, and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado, and the new Veterans Affairs Hospital are all located on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

MSMHA students have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge basic science research, clinical research, and have a multitude of shadowing opportunities.

Many 2nd year students take advantage of work opportunities on campus.  We currently have students working in the Department of Neurology, Department of Internal Medicine, Colorado AHEC (Area Health Education Centers), and our students even tutor medical and dental students.​​​  These work opportunities not only provide experience, but can enhance professional school applications and resumes/CVs.​​​


 Conference Presentations & Attendence

Our MSMHA students and faculty are amazing!

A big benefit of the 2-year curriculum is the time to work on projects that result in attending and presenting at national and international conferences. Each year  MSMHA students represent our program iat the Experimental Biology/American Association of Anatomists annual meeting. Not only is conference attendence a great way to showcase scientific work, it is an amazing networking and learning opportunity.

Our students have presented at a variety of conferences and symposia, such as:
- Experimental Biology / American Association of Anatomists
- American Association of Clinical Anatomists
- Society for Neuroscience
- International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders
- International Frailty and Sarcopenia Research Conference
- International American Thoracic Society Conference
- Congnitive Neuroscience Society Meeting
- Contemporary Management of Aerodigestive Disease in Children Conference
- Front Range Neuroscience Group
- Annual Rocky Mountain Regional Neuroscience Group Meeting
- CU's Academy of Medical Educator's Education Scholarship & Innovation Symposium
- University of Colorado Denver's Research and Creative Activities Symposium​​​


 Opportunities to Publish

The second year of the MSMHA curriculum affords many project opportunities, and with the mentoring of faculty and clinicians, students have the time and resources to contribute to original scientific work. Students are encouraged to publish their work, and are provided guidance in experimental design, research methods, scientific writing, and the manuscript submission process. ​

Examples of students' contributions on publications include (student names in bold):

Thomas J. Greany, Ala Yassin and K. Chase Lewis, "Developing an All-Digital Workflow for Dental Skills Assessment: Part I, Visual Inspection Exhibits Low Precision and Accuracy and Developing an All-Digital Workflow for Dental Skills Assessment: Part II, Surface Analysis, Benchmarking, and Grading."

Jake Smith, John L. Kendall, and Danielle F. Royer, "Improved medical student perception of ultrasound using a paired anatomy teaching assistant and clinician teaching model."

Rebecca Hlavac, Rachel Klaus, Kourney Betts, Shilo Smith, and Maureen Stabio, "Novel dissection of the central nervous system to bridge gross anatomy and neuroscience for an integrated medical curriculum."

Koury H, Corral J, Bastow BD, Sheeder J, Muffly TM. "A 3-Dimensional Anatomical Education Model in Postpartum Perineal Laceration Care: A Pre-Post Intervention Study."

Koury, HF, Leonard CJ, Carry PM, Lee LMJ, "An Expert Derived Feedforward Histology Module Improves Pattern Recognition Efficiency in Novice Students."

Mastej EJ, DeBoer EM, Humphries SM, Cook MC, Hunter KS, Liptzin DR, Weinman JP, Deterding RR. "Lung and airway shape in neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy."

Weinkle LJ, Stratford JM, Lee LMJ. "Voice in Digital Education: The Impact of Instructor's Perceived Age and Gender on Student Learning and Evaluation."

Rachel Klaus, Danielle Royer, and Maureen Stabio, "Use and perceptions of plastination among medical anatomy educators in the United States."

Hannah Benjamin and Danielle Royer, "@AACAnatomy twitter account goes live: A sustainable social media model for professional societies."

Yumi Ueki, Grisela Ramirez, Ernesto Salcedo, Maureen E. Stabio and Frances Lefcort, "Loss of Ikbkap causes slow, progressive retinal degeneration in a mouse model of Familial Dysautonomia."

Rae Russell and Lisa Lee, "Gross Anatomy of the Spinal Cord: An Online Learning Module."



 Networking with Faculty, Clinicians & Colleagues

The second year of the MSMHA program gives students the time to cultivate strong relationships with faculty, clinicians, their MSMHA classmates, and students from other programs.

MSMHA students serve as Teaching Assistants in medical school, dental school, physical therapy, and physician assistant gross anatomy courses, creating relationships with 1st year students and faculty in those professional programs.

The Capstone Project and independent study projects provide intensive collaborative opportunities between students and faculty. These relationships have often resulted in recommendations and even employment opportunities.

Second year students participate in a number of cross-disciplinary volunteer opportunities, such as the student-run DAWN clinic, the CU-AMC chapter of SACNAS, the Student Senate, PRiSM, CDB Research Day, and science outreach to elementary, middle, and high school students.  

The MSMHA program and the time afforded in the 2nd year curriculum provides the environment for students to forge relationships that not only aid them in our program, but will enrich their professional careers into the future.​​​​


 Did We Mention Colorado?

There is a reason that Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation - the secret it out! During the 2nd year curriculum, students have more flexibility and opportunities to take advantage of all that Denver and Colorado have to offer.

Denver is a vibrant city that is small enough to be easy to naviagate, but big enough to have tons of diversity and culture. Some fun facts about Denver:
- the city really is a mile high, sitting at an elevation of 5280 feet
- Denver boasts of having 300 days of sunshine each year
- Denver has the second highest educated population in the nation
- Denver has 7 professional sports teams
- Denver has multiple live music venues, the second largest performing art complex in the nation, and a vibrant arts scene
- other cities envy Denver's parks system, as the city has more than 200 parks within the city limits and 20,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains

Of course, Colorado is known for the mountains and access to the great outdoors. Within an hour's drive of the campus, you can be hiking or rock climbing in the mountains, camping (like our students in the picture above), or a slightly longer drive will put you at the base of some of the most spectacular ski resorts in North America. Colorado continues to be one of the healthiest states in the country due to the abundant outdoor activities that are available every season of the year.


​​​​"With the MSMHA program I always felt like the sky was the limit when it came to opportunities both to network and to do research. I never felt like any my ideas were shot down. It was never "No, we can't do that.", it was always "Ok, how can we make it work?" Between the opportunities to attend conferences and present my research, and the opportunities to network in my chosen field before even having graduated, I was convinced I had made the right decision to attend the MSMHA program."
-Oana Rosenthal, Class of 2015