Two Dundee medical students who found themselves trapped 11,000 miles away from home last month will today join the coronavirus fight as qualified doctors.
Eilidh Martin and Harriet Greig are among 134 graduating from Dundee University two months earlier than normal to allow them to support the NHS.
The 23 year-olds will soon don their scrubs and get to work at Ninewells Hospital, less than four weeks after they were left stranded in New Zealand.
Alongside friend Lindsay Wallace, they pair managed to navigate worldwide lockdown measures and secured a flight against the odds following a medical elective in Vanuatu.
Eilidh said they were eager to get to work.
“I have been training for six years for this so I feel prepared,” she said.
“We’ve had inductions online and at Ninewells recently so that has helped. There also seems to be a lot of support from senior staff and we all have mentors.
“I feel relaxed but excited to get started. It’s been quite a quick process.”
They are among roughly 50 new Dundee University graduates set to work locally at Tayside’s biggest hospital as Foundation (Interim) Year 1 Doctors.
A virtual graduation will take place at 7pm tonight. Eilidh said many of the students were still making an effort for the non-traditional ceremony.
She said: “When we found out we were graduating early, a lot of people started making their own gowns.
“It’s obviously not what we expected when we imagined graduating but I’ve made my own hat to wear to look the part on the online ceremony.
“Last month we were all quite eager to get back from abroad. It’s difficult being in a position where you know you can help but can’t.
“It made it so much worse knowing the virus was about to put extra pressure on the NHS but not knowing when we would be back.”
During the event the graduating students will take an oath, as is traditional for medical school graduations.
They will join hundreds of nursing students from the university who have already taken up placements in the NHS to help during the pandemic.
Professor Rory McCrimmon, Dean of the University’s School of Medicine, said: “Never before have medical graduates faced such a dramatic transition from student to doctor, but we know our new graduates are prepared to deal with whatever faces them, now and in the years to come.
“We are immensely proud of them, not only for their achievements while studying with us, but also for stepping up to support the NHS and communities – locally and globally – at this trying time.
“We emphasise from the beginning of their studies at Dundee the importance of thinking and acting like a doctor from day one – and so, with early clinical access, the emphasis on communication and clinical skills, and the deep understanding of patient-centred care, our graduates are ready to help their patients and their colleagues through this challenging time.”
The graduation ceremony will be live streamed so family, friends and members of the university community can join the online celebrations.
The event can be watched at https://www.dundee.ac.uk/medicine-graduation
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