Alyssa Riley

Alyssa Riley

Alyssa Riley, M.D., is a 2000 chemical engineering alumna who is now a pediatric nephrologist and Clinical Documentation Integrity Physicians Advisor at Dell Hospital in Texas.
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Dr. Alyssa Riley is a pediatric nephrologist at Dell Hospital in Austin, Texas, and a 2000 Rose-Hulman alumna who majored in chemical engineering.

She splits her time between nephrology and as a Clinical Documentation Integrity Physicians Advisor, a role in which she can apply her analytical skills.

Riley shares her experiences as an undergraduate student at Rose, how it helped prepare her for medical school, and how an engineering degree can benefit future professionals in the medical field.

How did Rose-Hulman prepare you for medical school?

In high school, I planned on going into medicine. When I decided to come to Rose, it was more that I felt like it was a school I was comfortable with. I realized pretty quickly that if medical school didn’t work out, I had a really solid background degree that wouldn’t require me to go to grad school. I think that’s pretty common for people who start off in college with ambitions to go to medical school. A lot of people realize along the way that it’s not the right calling for them. It was one of the few things that I did think out where I realized I had something I could do without going to med school because I had an engineering degree.

In medical school, when we got into the clinical rotations, the hands-on doing of things and applying that knowledge, had a strong foundation in the learning that we did at Rose.

Class photo of Alyssa Riley

Riley was a chemical engineering major, graduating from Rose-Hulman in 2000. (Rose-Hulman photo archives) 

How has your engineering background helped you professionally?

I do different forms of dialysis for patients, a lot of pathophysiology of the body along with physiology that intermixes with the technology we use, which I think had a lot of interest for me based on the engineering background. There are concepts and principals in dialysis…it’s a very satisfying therapy to perform on patients, because you can plug in your numbers and predict what’s going to happen and if doesn’t work out you can go back and figure out where to tweak it to make it work.

I think in medicine there’s also a role for people who have an analytic, problem-solving mind; who want to look at things a little bit differently than probably the traditional aspects of medicine. There’s a huge role for technology in medicine. There’s probably going to be a move towards some aspects of artificial intelligence to help problem solve and treat and particalize a lot of medicine, and I think somebody who is comfortable with that kind of technologic background will do really well with the future of medicine.

Alyssa Riley with group

Riley was involved in a number of campus groups, including Student Government Association, the American Society of Medical Students pre-med chapter, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers student chapter. (Rose-Hulman photo archives) 

What are your favorite memories from your time at Rose?

I was a member of Chi Omega and was the first female vice president of the Student Government Association. Through Student Government, we got to see a lot of the functions of the school and interact with a lot of different student groups and administration to help bring everything together for student recognition. One of my favorite things in doing that about Rose-Hulman, is how strong the support is for students in terms of what extracurricular activities there are. There’s an activity for everybody.

I loved giving tours and explaining to prospective students how there were so many activities, not just the curriculum, and how much a part of the experience all those extra things were. 

Even though my high school was about the same size as Rose, it felt like so much more of a comfortable place because everybody wants to be there. Everybody had their own unique interests. It wasn’t weird to have something like that. It was more the cultural norm and it was super OK to be a nerd.

Alyssa in Cheer Team

"At a place like Rose-Hulman, if it feels like a good fit, you will find your area to be successful in." - Alyssa Riley (Rose-Hulman photo archives) 

What advice do you have for high school students looking at colleges?

At a place like Rose-Hulman, if it feels like a good fit, you will find your area to be successful in. It may not sound like most traditional route to medical school. But knowing if that does or doesn’t work out, it’s a super strong background education. It’s a super strong education to be able to go to med school with, but it’s also a something excellent if you change your mind along the way and do something else.
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