The idea that Dr. Natalie Stavas would race to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombings was no surprise to University of Nebraska Medical Center faculty members who worked with the 2011 UNMC graduate.
“I would have no doubt that she would get involved in something like that because she cares about people, cares about learning and wants to be the best physician she can be,” said Dr. Gary Beck, director of UNMC's Curriculum & Education Research Office.
“She really took the initiative to get some of the rotations she wanted to get to enhance her learning, which is kind of refreshing to see in a student.”
Stavas grew up in Lincoln. She earned a nursing degree from Creighton University, went to work as a critical-care nurse in San Diego and decided to return to Nebraska to attend medical school at UNMC.
Her father and running mate on Monday, Dr. Joe Stavas, earned his medical degree at Creighton and is a radiologist in North Carolina.
Natalie Stavas graduated with high distinction in 2011 and is in her second year of a program called the Boston Combined Residency Program, in which she spends half the time at Children's Hospital in Boston and half the time at Boston Medical Center.
As a student at UNMC, Stavas served as the head of the committee that operates a student-run clinic for medically underserved people in Omaha. Dr. Audrey Paulman, the clinic's faculty adviser, said Stavas was responsible for making sure the clinic was properly staffed and had adequate supplies. Stavas also helped plan an international conference held at UNMC on student-run free clinics.
“Natalie is one of those students that was remarkable in that she had excellent learning skills and she had excellent people skills,” Paulman said.
Med students, Paulman said, take part in a rural medicine program that exposes them to emergency care and, in general, are taught to think on their feet. She said, however, that “there's nothing that I know of that we can teach them to know what to do when a bomb explodes at the end of the Boston Marathon.”
Stavas said the tragedy won't affect her running. “My dad and I are going to run the Boston again next year.”