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Medical students to be fast-tracked onto coronavirus frontline

Young medic already volunteering at Royal Free speaks of 'baptism of fire'

01 April, 2020 — By Tom Foot

MORE than 300 medical students are to be fast-tracked into the coronavirus frontline.

The UCL Medical School in Huntley Street, Bloomsbury, today (Wednesday) graduated its final year students early meaning they can now apply to become junior doctors.

NHS hospitals are under intense strain from the coronavirus outbreak with many staff off sick or having to isolate.

It normally takes several months of “apprenticeship-style work placements” after exams before students go on the front line.

Many are already helping hospitals in volunteer roles but this will allow them to take up paid positions.

Graduate Megan Hollands, who has been volunteering at the Royal Free Hospital, said: “Our electives and graduation had been cancelled, and I know a lot of us wanted to be able to do something to help.

“Before starting, I felt nervous that I wouldn’t be of much help as I’ve never experienced something quite like this.

“Luckily, I’ve had a fantastic team who explained that this is a very different way of practicing medicine and I would learn quickly.

“On one hand, I’ve definitely found some situations scary and sad, and experienced things I would never have, but on the other, I am thankful that I have the skills to be a part of the effort, and I think this experience will make us all better doctors. It’s a baptism of fire, but I’ve never been prouder to be a part of the NHS.”

Megan is graduating early to help fight coronavirus

OIiver Ingham Clark, another volunteer at the Free, due to start work as a junior  doctor, said: “I feel like it is important to help out during this unprecedented situation and provide some slack in the teams within hospital. 

“In volunteering for the NHS I have now spent six 12 hour shifts with the same team at the Royal Free Hospital, so I’m less anxious now.”

Director of UCL Medical School Professor Deborah Gill said: “This is an altruistic, adaptable and inspirational cohort of medical students who have answered the call for action and are eager to utilise their skills to help the NHS – we could not be any prouder.

“In this time of crisis, we recognise and support the emergency measures by UK Government and the GMC in fast-tracking final year students; however, they are entering the workforce short of months of intensive preparation for their role.”

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