Winter 2019
From forward to fellow

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Above the basketball rim and hooding ceremony

Shavon Moore, M.D. '16, '11, was hooded by Sarla Dawkins-Stephens (right) during UNR Med commencement ceremonies May 13, 2016 at Lawlor Events Center. Shavon Moore played for the Pack throughout her undergraduate career, 2007-2011. Photos by Anne McMillin (left) , APR & John Byrne (right)

Shavon Moore: Former Wolf Pack basketball forward preps for a psychiatry fellowship

In her former life, Shavon Moore, M.D. '16, '11 (psychology), '11 (biology) was a 6'1" forward for the Wolf Pack. While her stature hasn't changed, her status certainly has. Dr. Moore is currently completing her psychiatry residency at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, where she will begin a child psychiatry fellowship this July.

Nevada women's basketball team forward, co-senior captain, Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year- as an undergrad, you juggled Division 1 Basketball with a double major and hard science minor. How did you manage it all?

I began my undergraduate career studying Biology, but sometimes the courses I needed conflicted with my basketball schedule. The first time that happened, I enrolled in a psychology 101 course instead and really enjoyed it.

Over time, it evolved: If I needed to enroll in a course because basketball practice got in the way, I would take a psychology class. By my sophomore year, psychology turned into my minor. As I neared graduation, I had enough credits to double major, and I declared chemistry as my minor.

I had to plan for long study sessions a week or two in advance of the tests. I couldn't do all-nighters - we had practice and had to be fresh.

We had designated study hall hours, and it really helped me having that required time to get studying in. My coach kept me accountable.

I also had to be creative studying when we had away games. I obviously couldn't change the date of a game, so I would have to plan my studying around practice, games and travel. We'd play Fresno State or San Jose State, and we knew we would be on a slow bus traveling over Donner Pass on Interstate 80 - listening to the loud snow chains on the tires - and that's time we would use to study.

Even though playing sports and delaying classes could have been detrimental, I really enjoyed my college career and all the people I met and experiences I had. I don't feel like athletics ever held me back; instead, sports enhanced my college experience. Being an athlete was instrumental to me earning two degrees.

What drew you to medicine?

I tore my ACL two games before Senior Night. Within that moment, I thought, "Well, basketball is over. I'm a senior. What am I going to do with my life? Maybe grad school? Maybe take the MCAT?"
Like any typical type-A-medical-school-bound person does, I started making lists and charts comparing graduate and doctorate programs for psychology. After some research, I figured if a master's takes two years and a Ph.D. takes six, why not just try to go to medical school?

I interviewed people in the field and discovered that with psychiatry, the road is limitless. I began to study for the MCAT. After I graduated from Nevada in December 2011 - and before starting medical school in the fall - I found a job working with Alliance Family Services as a basic skills trainee and providing for psychosocial rehabilitation. A lot of the youth were at risk with some kind of a psychiatric diagnosis. I would work with the kids and their families six-to-eight hours a week, as well as their therapists and psychiatrists, to work on their treatment plans and goals. 

That's what got me interested in child psychology-being able to help mold and help people and their development and provide a safe and consistent person in their life when may not have one anywhere else.

What are some of your best memories of UNR Med?

I really enjoyed working with Dr. Nicole Jacobs, Dr. Timothy Baker, Dr. Melissa Piasecki and basically everyone on the implicit bias project we were implementing. In the end, it was about mitigating physician burnout and increasing resiliency. It was a great experience to see what medical students bring to school-any biases we bring with us and that get incorporated in how we practice as physicians.

I think I had a great education at UNR Med. I'm very happy this is the medical school I got to go to. I'm grateful to all of my classmates, a lot who are graduating this year-some who I will definitely refer my patients to. I'm just glad I got to meet some amazing people and be part of it all.

Basketball and medicine both require years of practice. What other parallels can you draw between them?

It definitely takes a lot of practice to do both, whether it's spending hours with working with patients versus hours practicing free throws or jump shots, or the hours you spend studying versus the hours you spend on agility and strength. The amount of hours and time you dedicate to both is immense.

Everything you do is leading up to the big game-or to being an attending faculty physician-and practicing on your own. With both basketball and medicine no matter how much practice you put in, you're never really comfortable because something is always changing. They are both worlds were adapting is key, recognizing that the defense has changed, the once standard treatments of disorders are now obsolete, you have to stay on top of it. You never know what skill you will need-like being on the middle of the game and you're losing. How do you come back? In medicine, what will you pull out of your toolbox to make sure the patients get better and on the right path?

As psychiatrists we have to make sure our diagnoses are accurate, the treatments appropriate and make sure that we have all the teammates we need to do right by our patients. The team aspect that goes into basketball and very much into medicine was especially relevant to me as a psychiatry resident working on an inpatient unit. It's not just the doctors, it's also nurses being the first providers to talk patients through a difficult time, the pharmacists making sure the patients understand how and when to take their meds, the social workers are making sure that the environment we discharge patients to is stable enough for the patient to heal and not end up back in the inpatient unit. All are necessary to making sure that we give our patients the best chance we can to get better.
That's the teamwork of medicine.

From a conversation with Shavon Moore, M.D. '16, '11 (psychology), '11 (biology), and Roseann Langlois, UNR Med content marketing manager, in December 2018.