Dundee University medical students are foregoing the grand day out of graduation to take up their position on the NHS frontline as soon as possible.
More than 100 new doctors will graduate early his week to allow their registration with the General Medical Council so they can join the pandemic fight – some possibly within days.
Graduation normally happens in June, but the normal pomp and ceremony surrounding the Caird Hall ceremonies is being dropped to allow the early qualification in the unprecedented circumstances.
Professor Rory McCrimmon, Dean of the School of Medicine at Dundee, said: “The NHS is facing a crisis like we have never seen, and it requires as much help as we can muster.
“To that end we have accelerated the graduation of our final year students.
“It is certainly an unusual graduation for them, and we will look to give them a full celebration of their achievements when such events can be arranged again.
“But for the moment their help may be needed urgently and they are now in position to do that as qualified doctors,” he said.
Mr McCrimmon added: “We are really proud of our medical students in Dundee. We involve them in clinical practice almost from day one and I am confident they will make a real contribution to the NHS during this crisis.”
Emma Box, 24, from Linlithgow, said: “Starting work as a doctor is always going to be daunting. For the many new graduates joining the NHS workforce, the biggest difference is the uncertainty that has come with this.
“It’s strange not knowing whether we’ll still be sitting in our pyjamas doing cross-stitch this time next week or if we’ll have a new prefix to our name and be on the wards as part of the team of key workers we’ve all been watching on the news.
“However, this uncertainty is no different to what everyone else in the country is facing right now so it’s easiest just to take it one day at a time and wait for the governing bodies to let us know if and when we can help.
“I think it’s important for everyone, my fellow medical students as well as the general public, to remember that we’re as ready as we’ll ever be to start work as doctors.
“They’re not recruiting people who aren’t quite qualified, it’s just about speeding up the official processing to allow people who have completed their training to start work slightly sooner than usual.
“This is what we’ve trained for, and we’re as ready as we can be,” said Emma.
Rachael Logan, 24, from Glasgow, said: “It is all a bit surreal at the moment. It’s a daunting prospect that hasn’t really sunk in yet, but we’ve had five years of training to prepare so we should be in a good position to help when we’re needed.”
Professor Maggie Bartlett, the head of the undergraduate division in the university’s School of Medicine, said: “We are very proud of our new doctors, they deserve our heartfelt congratulations on their graduation, and we are hopeful we will be able to organise a full celebration at some point down the line.”