Three Minutes with Martin Goodenberger

Martin GoodenbergerMartin Goodenberger is originally from Elwood, Nebraska. He started his Scott Scholarship in 2002 and graduated from PKI in 2007. He majored in Bioinformatics and minored in German and Chemistry. He currently is in Medical School at UNMC. Contact him via Facebook.

I could take a lot of classes and be challenged all the time at PKI. I could take a heavy course load, which prepared me a lot for medical school. Whenever we have any kind of math in medicine, like in some biostatistics lectures, I’m very strong in because our statistics and math background that I had to have for bioinformatics.

Choosing a specialty is like choosing majors in undergrad.  You start out thinking you want to do a certain specialty, but a lot of people end up changing. Third year you do rotations in specialties that everybody is expected to have some knowledge in; fourth year you do pretty much the same thing except for that in the fourth year you get to choose the rotations you do. After the fourth year, you graduate with your MD but you still can’t practice medicine because you have to do residency where you’re actually trained in your specialty.

The summer between my first and second year of medical school, I went to Columbia and worked at a maternity hospital. They wouldn’t let anyone but the pregnant women into the hospital so the women ended up laboring alone, in pain.  They didn’t have any anesthesia. They just had an exam table with stirrups and a big, black plastic tarp over the table so that they could hose everything off after delivery.  At the end of the table, there was a big trash can for all the fluid to fall down into. You had to catch the baby and make sure it didn’t fall into the trash can. The hospital was clean and a safer place to have a baby than at home. It met the World Health Organization’s standards for delivering babies and was better than nothing. It was free and run by the government, but it was definitely bare bones.

I get to see patients that not everyone gets to see because I can speak Spanish. You get more of the nuances of the conversation and what someone’s trying to tell you if you speak their language. No translation is going to be perfect.  You miss a lot of little details that are lost in translation that can be helpful in trying to figure out what’s going on.

I’ve finally decided that I want to go into radiology.  I’m in the process of applying now.  The application process goes from September until March of the next year.  At the end of the process you rank all of the places you would like to go, and the residency programs rank who they would like.  Everyone in the nation submits their ranking lists, a computer spits out the results, and on the same day, everyone across the nation gets the results.  At UNMC we don’t find out where we will go until we open an envelope at a ceremony with our class and families.  It’s interesting to watch reactions because not everybody gets to go where they want.  I chose radiology because the field relies heavily on computers and physics which are some of my strengths.

Take advantage of the financial freedom that being a Scott Scholar gives you. It’s good to get a job and build your resume, but you are also in a unique position to actually have time and money simultaneously.  Travel and do things that interest you now because the more committed you get to work and school, the less you’ll have an opportunity to do what you want, when you want.

This and future interviews of Scott Scholar Alumni will be found at If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming interview, have a request to hear about someone else, or just have any other comments or suggestions, please contact Kyle Hoback.

Update from Martin (Feb 2015): 

When I was interviewed for the last piece, I was in my fourth year of medical school in the process of applying to residency. Now, four years later, I’m still in residency!

To become an MD you have to finish undergrad and medical school. However, to be board certified and practice independently you have to do a residency and optionally a fellowship. I chose to do my residency, i.e. specialize, in radiology.

I was accepted at UNMC and now am partway through my fourth of five years. In residency you are an MD but have to be working under the supervision of someone more experienced, much like an apprentice. In the summer of 2016 when I finish residency I plan to sub-specialize and do a fellowship in body imaging.

Most days at work consist of looking at X-Rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scans. We take what we see on the images and try to combine what we know about the patient to provide a reasonable explanation or list of possibilities of what is going on to the referring doctor. We also do image guided procedures. For example, a common procedure we do is use CT to guide a needle to a lung nodule to take a sample and determine if it is benign or malignant.

I am getting to the point now that the knowledge I use through most of the day is fairly specialized, what I learned in undergrad is no longer directly applicable, though of course I needed it as a foundation. Specifically my undergrad math, physics, and computer science classes help me when I need to understand how a machine or algorithm works for troubleshooting.

My advice to current Scott Scholars would not change. Use your financial freedom and the time that you have as a student to travel or pursue productive hobbies! I’m so glad I spent time traveling and doing as many diverse things as I could in undergrad. I still have the opportunity to travel occasionally, but it would be incredibly hard to do it for months or a year like I did in undergrad.

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