Medical students at the University of Exeter graduate early to Join NHS fight against Covid-19
Medical students at the University of Exeter have graduated earlier than anticipated online to start work in the NHS to support the fight against coronavirus.
Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter Professor Sir Steven Smith announced in an email to all students “These students have chosen to graduate three months early in order immediately to take up their posts as junior doctors and diagnostic radiographers, and so to join the NHS in the fight against Coronavirus in communities across the country.” He also announced that they would be joined by “clinically trained colleagues who have returned to practice in many different settings.” The Vice-Chancellor went on to praise these individual’s choices stating he is “humbled and inspired by their selflessness”.
“Now, in the time of our greatest national and global crisis since the Second World War, we see the young people of this country and of our University standing up to be counted and making huge personal sacrifices”.Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Steven Smith
Connor Williams is one of the recently graduated medical students from the University of Exeter. His graduation took place online on Thursday the 9th of April.
When asked how he felt about graduating Connor stated “It’s kind of a daunting prospect graduating early. I think we’re all wanting to help out in any way we can and there’s definitely a level of excitement in there somewhere, but the hospital environment is certainly wildly different to what it was when we were last on placement in Exeter/Truro back at the end of February”
He explains that they have “spent the past 3 years on placement with different hospital specialities but the thought of finally being responsible for our own patients is always going to be a big step up for any of us, no matter how confident (or otherwise) we may feel.”
With many people who have taught him heading to the frontlines Connor says “most of us are keen to get stuck in!”. Connor and his graduates are still waiting to hear where they will be stationed however, Connor will be heading back to Exeter for a year. He says he and his fellow graduates will know where they will be stationed from the beginning of August onwards stating “until then most of us will be based either near the medical school (anywhere in Devon or Cornwall) or where we’re going to be starting our normal jobs come August”.
Rather than undertaking up the job of Foundation Year 1 (FY1) doctor, they will be entering a new job called “interim FY1”. This term means they will be Junior doctors but the role will be only for the medical students newly qualified. They will then enter the FY1 role in August. Connor states “We’ll likely be helping out on wards which are less high risk, assisting writing notes during ward rounds, prescribing medication and doing simple jobs like taking bloods and putting in cannulas.”
When asked how he felt about graduating early Connor said “I can’t wait to get to work tbh as I’m getting bored of being stuck at home now! The job shouldn’t really push us too much outside of our comfort zone and we’ll likely be well supported on the wards.”
“Just like starting any new job you’re always going to have some underlying worries about being a hinderance to the team or being asked to do things that you’re not comfortable with, but hopefully we’ll pick it up within the first few shifts” said Connor.
As one of the students who graduated online he described the experience as “pretty surreal – Certainly nothing like what we were expecting when we first started university!” He explained that ceremony took place on a webpage where graduates were able to watch 10-minute speeches by the University’s chancellor, vice-chancellor, and the dean of the medical school. They were then able to watch congratulation messages from their colleagues and staff members. They were also able to upload recordings of them reading out the Hippocratic oath.
“It was a great shame that we couldn’t have our friends and family with us for the day but it was nice of the university to organise it so that we had some kind of closure at the end of our degree before we start work”.Connor Williams
Connor wants people to know that “even though we are qualifying early, we’d finished pretty much all of our assessments anyway and the medical school are happy that we have all skills that a junior doctor requires” and that they’re “looking forward to having a proper graduation when the lockdown rules are relaxed later in the year!”