A letter from Rishi Reddy, ’00 MD (HPME)

Alumni president Rishi Reddy

Hello, Feinberg alumni!

My plan for this column was to share memorable moments from our 20th reunion. But then, as you all know, everything changed. There was no reunion. COVID-19 swept in. Many Feinberg alumni found themselves in the trenches, fighting this pandemic up close; others were more removed, but still felt more profoundly than ever the oath we had taken to care for others. I want to take a moment to thank our alumni, along with all physicians, nurses, staff, and scientists everywhere, who were and continue to be on the front lines of fighting this virus.

But, I also want to acknowledge that, despite it all, the medical field moves forward. I would like to congratulate the Class of 2020, who are embarking on the next phase of their careers. If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that your career may take you in unexpected directions, and you must always be ready to adapt.

As my class celebrates our 20th year reunion, I’ve had the chance to reflect on where we were 20 years ago, both during our preclinical classes as well as in clinical medicine. There have been dramatic changes to the curriculum, how we treat certain diseases, and the way students go through life in Streeterville.

During our M1 year, many of us lived in the dorms at 875 North Lakeshore Drive, along with the physical therapy and dental students. Since then, the dental school has closed and 875 was sold.

Step 1 was still a two-day, written test in the spring of 1998, before becoming a one-day, online test the next year. Taking that test as a class was a unique, high-stress experience that we shared. When we finished our core M3 year, we started our M4 year in what was then the “new” Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

It is also interesting how clinical medicine has changed in the past 20 years. Cancer treatments for a variety of stage 4 cancers now offer some hope with the advent of immunotherapies among other treatments. The microbiome’s connection to diseases ranging from cancer to inflammatory problems has been recognized. Nanotechnology has become a critical part of diagnostic and therapeutic paradigms.

I’m curious to see what changes the Class of 2020 — after witnessing SARS, MERS, COVID-19, and more — will reflect upon in 2040 at their 20th reunions. Where will they rotate for their clinical rotations? Will Streeter’s Tavern and Timothy O’Toole’s Pub still exist? What will be the supply chain for PPE?

Despite the unprecedented hardships to the health system and medical school over the past few months, I think we can still take a moment to reflect on the long term. I hope that the next 20 years are as exciting for Feinberg and for the field of medicine as the last 20 have been. I hope that the Class of 2020 will stay engaged with Feinberg, the Alumni Association, and the current student body. I know that the current Alumni Association will continue to mentor our newest members for years to come.

Thank you for staying engaged, and GO CATS!