Anna Briker, ’21 MD, said that Feinberg’s supportive environment including her peers, faculty and attending physicians, is what she will remember the most about her medical school career.
“It feels so incredible to be finally graduating. When I look back, I can’t believe it’s been four years because it flew by really fast, but then I think of how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown. I’ve had so many incredible mentors, from my AOSC mentor to my attendings at the VA and at Northwestern, and I think of all the formative experiences that I’ve had. I just can’t wait to learn even more,” Briker said.
Briker added that going to medical school during a pandemic has taught her and her peers how to quickly adapt to and navigate unprecedented challenges and environments both in and out of the clinical setting. She will be starting her residency in internal medicine at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University this fall.
“Ever since I was young, I wanted a career in which I could have an impact on people. Getting my medical degree means to me that I will have a lifelong career in which I am able to take care of people and really help them through their most difficult and vulnerable moments,” Briker said.
Feinberg’s 162nd commencement ceremony was held virtually on May 24 to accommodate public health measures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and the Lewis Landsberg Dean, introduced the ceremony and welcomed graduating medical students, faculty and family and friends of students to the virtual ceremony.
“You’re entering a brave new world of managing priorities, a world where keeping people as healthy as we can becomes a collective responsibility of science and the medical profession,” Neilson said. “There is a superb medical talent among our graduating class, but it’s waiting to be tested by a team; tested to see if it can meet the special needs of human health in a time of crisis. I think you will.”
Neilson introduced Morton Schapiro, PhD, president of Northwestern University, who reminded graduates to reach out to those who have inspired and motivated them during their journeys to becoming physicians.
“As you celebrate with all your friends and family and you obviously feel so good about yourself, find somebody who really made an impact on you and say, “Guess what? I’m a physician and you deserve to celebrate alongside me’,” Schapiro said.
Neilson then delivered the commencement address to this year’s graduates.
“In receiving medical advice, patients need to sense empathy and noble character from their physicians. After all, a social contract creates public trust. While I recognize you as a professional in a more personal way, society will not recognize you as a professional until your life actions reflect your willingness to put patient needs ahead of your own and until you are seen conducting your life for public good. Preserving this social contract has never been more important than today,” Neilson said.
Christopher Gordon, ’21 MD, ’21 MBA, who will be starting his residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the fall, said he is looking forward to getting involved with work addressing racial disparities and health equity and hopes to apply for a cardiology fellowship after his residency.
“It’s hard to believe that these five years have gone by so fast. It feels like yesterday that I first came to Chicago and looking back at all the experiences that I’ve had and how much I’ve learned, I’m just very grateful,” Gordon said.
Most of all, Gordon said he is grateful for the support he’s received throughout his medical career from his family and the Feinberg community, including his peers, faculty mentors, and the Augusta Webster, MD, Office of Medical Education (AWOME) and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
“Feinberg has prepared me for the future in multiple ways. I’d say clinically, going through the preclinical modules and then being in the hospital for my various clerkships, I definitely feel like I’m ready to take on ownership of patients. But more than that, the community here has pushed me to excel and I feel ready to tackle whatever problems come in front of me,” Gordon said.
Sandra Sanguino, ’93 MD, MPH, ’96, ’97 GME, senior associate dean for Medical Education, presented the members of the MD class of 2021. Names and pictures of the newly named physicians were featured as names were called.
To conclude this year’s commencement ceremony, Neilson virtually led the graduates in reciting the Declaration of Geneva, the modern version of the Hippocratic oath.
Thirty-three graduating students were inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and 23 were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Fourteen students received Magna Cum Laude in Scientia Experimentali and 14 received Cum Laude in Scientia Experimentali. Eight students graduated Summa Cum Laude, eight graduated Magna Cum Laude and eight graduated Cum Laude.
Several students also completed some of Feinberg’s dual-degree programs; 10 graduates received a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, five earned a Master’s Degree in Medical Humanities & Bioethics, 15 received a Master’s Degree in Public Health, and 13 earned a PhD in the Medical Scientist Training Program.
After degrees were conferred, Charlie Schufreider, ’21 MD, ’21 MA, addressed his classmates first by thanking the patients who let him and his peers care for them and concluding with emphasizing the responsibility of physicians in addressing the myriad of pandemics that are currently impacting society.
Schufreider, who will be begin his residency in pediatrics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine this fall, said in his speech, “On this very day in which we become doctors, multiple social pandemics lay waste physical health in our nation. Some of you have already committed yourselves to addressing these issues and are putting in the work for change. But for the rest of us, let’s all join them and together vow ourselves to be a part of that change, to not ignore what is easy to ignore and to advocate not just for our patients as individuals but also on behalf of their communities. We swear to do no harm, so let’s stop perpetuating it.”