On May 26, 2017, the 85 medical students from the Class of 2017 processed down the aisle in Rockefeller Chapel and received their academic hoods in front of faculty, family, and friends. While they will formally earn their diplomas on June 10, the graduating students spent the better part of a beautiful May morning participating in the Divisional Academic Ceremony (DAC) and celebrating with an outdoor luncheon.
Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor and Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine, welcomed all students and their families by speaking about the recent advancements in the practice of medicine and the newly announced Duchossois Family Institute at the University of Chicago Medicine. He also encouraged students to be advocates for the most vulnerable in our society: “Speak up,” he said, “on issues that are central to your careers as physicians. Speak up for millions patients losing coverage.”
The moving—and funny—keynote speech was given by Jay Bradner, MD’99, President of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Being back on campus, he said, brought back memories not only of this “South Side haven of scholarship,” but of nights and weekends at Ribs N’ Bibs, Valois, Salonica, and other iconic Hyde Park diners. He then addressed the graduating class directly, saying, “Your generation will save science.” The knowledge and connectivity that technology provides at the bedside has changed medicine for the better—as long as the next generation of doctors also remembers the compassionate, humane side of care. Dr. Bradner told a moving story about his mother’s recent medical emergency and the tendency of some of her physicians to concentrate more on her computerized test results than on her, and he implored the Class of 2017 to “keep your humanity close at hand, and draw strength from your insecurity.” This unconscious emotional knowledge that humans have over machines will ensure that each graduating student will become a compassionate physician.
The Class of 2017 will be practicing 16 specialties of medicine in 21 states and 2 countries. Best wishes to them as their future unfolds!