The Class of 2012 gathered with faculty, friends, and family on May 24 to celebrate the culmination of at least four years of medical school. The 158 students graduating Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine lined up for the commencement ceremony at Chicago's Navy Pier Grand Ballroom.
“It’s a little hard to believe that I’m graduating today,” said Samia Farooqi, MD’12. “You see your friends go through it and even imagine yourself going through the ceremony, now it’s actually happening. The real excitement happens when we start practicing as doctors.”
As she put on her gown, her mother began to cry. Her family was unable to attend her undergraduate graduation, so her family was excited to fly in from Saudi Arabia to watch her participate in the ceremony. Farooqi received the Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award and was one of the awardees of the Phi Rho Sigma Dennis Award for outstanding performance in junior year clerkships.
“I’m most looking forward to being hooded by my college mentor. He has seen my journey through medical school and watched me grow,” she said.
Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean, greeted guests to the 153rd graduation of doctors of medicine.
Morton Schapiro, president of Northwestern University, expressed how impressed he was with graduates from the medical school and reminded them how much they’ve sacrificed and persevered.
“There is nothing better in life then when people who work so hard, see their dreams realized; and your dreams will be realized here this afternoon,” he said. “I always say at the end, graduates go out and make us proud, but for what you have done so far in your lives, I know you will make us proud, so congratulations.”
Dean Neilson shared some thoughts with the students about embarking on a journey of lifelong learning and advised them, “In addition to your scientific and clinical skills, you will find that sympathy and kindness are an effective means of discovering the needs of your patient.”
He gave them his best wishes before introducing the commencement speaker, Samuel O. Thier, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School.
An authority on internal medicine and kidney disease, Thier is known for his expertise in national healthcare policy, medical education, and biomedical research.
Thier congratulated all of the graduates and remarked, “It’s not easy to start out now, each generation makes it’s living through a time of great change.”
He told graduates the responsibilities they will need to uphold as professionals, “knowledge, ethics, standards, and performance.”
“It is your responsibility to take the time for those who come after you and be sure that they are taught the way you were taught," Their said. “You are the trustees of the knowledge and skills you have been given. Those are not proprietary items. You don’t own them, you got them from those before you, and you will give them to those after you.”
He concluded with a request that the Class of 2012 help guide the country in building a better healthcare system.
“I am confident that you will face that challenge with excitement and that you will do better than us,” he said.
John X. Thomas, Jr., PhD, senior associate dean for medical education, then presented the members of the graduating Class of 2012. As each new physician crossed the stage, they received their doctoral hood and diploma from their college mentor or a family member who is a physician.
After degrees were conferred, Richard Leiter, MD’12, nominated by his class to give the senior class message, said, “Today we join the community of physicians. We enter a profession. We gain all the rights and responsibilities that come with it, including, finally, the long white coat.”
He reminded his peers that medicine is a team sport.
“Teams on the wards or in the operating room or in the clinic aren’t measured by goals, points, or runs,” he said. “Teamwork in medicine means that even though there is a hierarchy, we are committed to teaching and learning from all of our colleagues; that we deal with each other with integrity and we put our patient’s needs above our own; and that we support one another even if it is inconvenient or difficult. We better ourselves and we better our patients because we do it as a team. This is what Feinberg has taught us.”
He continued by thanking faculty, mentors, and classmates who served in leadership positions, and then he thanked friends and family.
As the commencement came to an end, the graduates recited The Physician’s Creed Declaration of Geneva, the same oath they took as first-year medical students. They pledged “to practice their profession with conscience and dignity,” and to maintain by all means in their power “the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession.”
Before joining friends and family for a reception, the Class of 2012 gathered with the education deans as Dean Neilson led a traditional champagne toast marking their new journey as physicians.