Student medics graduate early and join NHS frontlines to fight Covid-19

Final year medical students across the UK have graduated early and joined the frontlines of the NHS to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Students, who had their final exams cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, have now been officially registered with the General Medical Council as doctors.

The new recruits taking up work in the NHS will become interim Foundation Y1 doctors, entering the two-year UK Foundation Programme which forms the bridge between medical school and specialist and general practice training.

They have also been able to choose where they work.

Medics at Swansea University have been among those to register early to assist the NHS. (Swansea University)

Tanya Ta trained at the University of East Anglia’s Medical School and now works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Her final exam was cancelled due to the pandemic, three days after she was originally due to sit it, she was instead applying for pre-registration with the GMC to join the NHS four months earlier than planned.

She told the PA news agency: “A lot of us were revising for that exam so we were a bit disappointed not to sit it, and when graduation was cancelled that was great a disappointment to us too.

“But we went to medical school not because we wanted to wear a robe at the end of it, but because we wanted to help and care for people.

“That’s what we set out to do and we are now doing it.”

Dr Ta said the hospital she is at has now been divided into green wards and yellow Covid-wards.

The new graduates are being kept on non-Covid wards at the moment.

She said: “We are being really well supported by the seniors, making sure we have scrubs to wear, to take lunch breaks and we aren’t being pushed to do anything we don’t want to do.

“Everyone is very protective so I think the plan at the moment is to keep us as far away as possible from the virus.”

Alex Ruddy, who trained at Swansea University, said he was filled with a sense of “nervous duty”.

He said: “This is our calling, and although it has arrived at an unexpected and unpredictable time, we will not be ignoring it.

“Despite entering the profession during a global pandemic, we have trained for this moment and above any sense of personal fear or anxiety, I think we are all eager to apply ourselves and help at this time of immense need.”

Zack Balaban, who also trained at Swansea said he felt ready to join the NHS.

He said: “I am graduating a few months early, but this is what I have been training for the past four years. My course mates and I are in a position where we can make a tangible difference to our NHS – it’s what we signed up for.”

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