Massachusetts and Ireland are among the areas letting medical students graduate early so they can help fight the pandemic

  • Medical schools in Massachusetts and Ireland have let students graduate early to help in the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Massachusetts expects 700 new doctors to be able to almost immediately start working in hospitals.
  • In Ireland. about 1,300 students are expected to graduate from the country’s six medical schools, according to the Irish Times.
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While the coronavirus has led to some schools canceling their exams, medical schools in Massachusetts and Ireland have moved up graduation dates so new doctors can take their place on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker requested that the state’s four medical schools graduate the students early and, on Thursday, the schools agreed.

“Anticipating a surge in the number of COVID-19 hospital patients, the deans of the four Massachusetts medical schools have agreed to the state’s request to move up the graduation dates of their fourth-year medical students, allowing them to join doctors on the front lines of the pandemic up to eight weeks earlier than they would have been able to,” according to a post on Boston University’s news website BU Today.

The students, who were scheduled to graduate in May, will graduate April 17.

They can choose to immediately start working in hospitals. About 700 medical students are eligible to graduate from Boston University, Harvard University, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts next month.

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said Thursday that the state is prepared to provide 90-day provisional licenses with a one-page application.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
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REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Massachusetts move comes shortly after Ireland moved up their medical exams by six weeks to their new doctors would also be available to work in the overwhelmed hospitals.

“People often talk about young people being snowflakes or self-centered,” said Prof. Hannah McGee, dean at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland told the Times. “Yet, they have taken on early exams, with a risk of not getting the grades they wanted, and there has been no sense of ‘woe is us’.

“There’s is a general sense among them that what’s happening is bigger than any of us. They are committed to playing their part,” McGee said.

New York University’s medical school, too, is planning to let its seniors graduate early so that they can help fight the state’s outbreak.

The coronavirus has infected more than 265,000 people around the world. At least 11,100 have died.

The RCSI fast-tracked its exam by six weeks. The National University of Ireland Galway also moved up summer exams, according to the Irish Times.

About 1,300 students are expected to graduate from the country’s six university schools of medicine. Many will be ready to work in the health service as early as next month, the paper reported.

“It was immense stress,” RCSI student Anthony Javed Machikan told the Irish Times. “It was a case of studying for 16-hours each day . . . thankfully, I passed it. In fact, the majority of us did.”