The University of Exeter has held a virtual graduation ceremony for medicine students who have chosen to graduate early to fight coronavirus.
The 95 final year students have finished their studies three months early in order to join NHS colleagues in Exeter and the South West.
As conventional graduations are not currently possible due to social distancing rules, the university held a virtual ceremony – its first ever.
Entering the NHS is always both exciting and nerve-racking for new graduates. Opting to do so in the middle of a global pandemic is exceptional
Students uploaded videos of themselves reciting the Hippocratic Oath, the historic doctor’s pledge to treat the ill to the best of one’s ability, and to preserve a patient’s privacy.
Staff and supporters were able to upload messages of pride and support.
In the absence of mortarboards and gowns, many students wore home-made versions.
“Entering the NHS is always both exciting and nerve-racking for new graduates. Opting to do so in the middle of a global pandemic is exceptional,” said Professor Ian Fussell, vice dean (education) for the University of Exeter Medical School.
“We know they’re well prepared for the challenges they’re about to face, and health trusts will benefit from their knowledge, skills and attitudes to help bolster the workforce. I’m delighted that we were able to celebrate their achievements online.
“We’re so proud of all our students, whether they opted to graduate early or not. Many are volunteering in other ways, and making a real impact in this crisis.”
The decision to graduate early was easy, I feel ready to step up as a doctor
Cassie Brewer, 23-year-old medicine student from Fowey, Cornwall, said: “When Covid-19 was announced a pandemic, I was on my elective year in Australia. The decision to graduate early was easy, I feel ready to step up as a doctor.
“After experiencing several healthcare systems throughout the world, I know that our beloved NHS is something to be proud of. It will be an absolute honour to become a member of the NHS team a little early.
“Me and my class wanted to become doctors to make a difference and to help people – this is our time to do just that”.
Tasa Uney, 22-year-old medicine student from Bristol, added: “I was on my medical elective in Peru whilst the Covid-19 crisis was unfolding in the UK and found it difficult to get back, eventually securing a repatriation flight. When we got back, it was evident that the UK was a different place to the one we left just one month ago.
“I was eager to be put forward for early graduation as I want to have a purpose during this chaotic time and give back to the hospital that supported me as a medical student.
“I’m really proud of my year group and how everyone has been supporting each other. I feel lucky that we’re such a close community and although we cannot have the conventional graduation we were looking forward to yet, I’m grateful the university are marked the day with an online ceremony.”
The university is planning a full, traditional graduation ceremony at a later date.
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