Medical schools send early graduates to fight coronavirus

Additional support 'is indispensable,' medical school dean says

Medical schools across the country are graduating students early so the new doctors can join the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

At Stony Brook University in New York, more than half of the Renaissance School of Medicine‘s 122 early spring graduates deployed immediately to help battle COVID-19.

About 50 of the early graduates began work April 13 as assisting physicians at Stony Brook University Hospital. All of the students took a required, two-week coronavirus preparedness course.

“I’m excited to do anything I can to help,” new graduate Dr. Hailey McInerney said in a university news release. “This is the job. This is what we all went into medicine to do.”

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In March, the medical school’s students also participated in a virtual match day, University Business reported.

Stony Brook is not alone in sending its early graduates to help treat COVID-19 patients.

A number of graduates from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s medical school have also begun helping to treat coronavirus patients, WBEZ-FM reported.

Some have begun working at a makeshift hospital set up at the city’s convention center.

“We know these students are entering the profession of medicine at a very challenging time,” Dr. Mark Rosenblatt, executive dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, told WBEZ. “It makes us understand even more the impact our profession has on the world and our communities and the patients around us. They’re entering at a time when we need physicians more than ever.”

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A cohort of graduates from five New York medical schools will serve in short-term, nonresident roles in New York hospitals before starting residencies in June, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges.

The schools include Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia, Weill Cornell Medicine Medical College, New York University (NYC) Grossman School of Medicine, the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

At all four schools in Massachusetts—the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School—plans to allow students to graduate early could add 700 new doctors to the workforce during the pandemic, the association reported.

These moves represent the biggest push to speed the training of physicians since World War II, when the federal government encouraged medical schools to create accelerated, three-year programs to fill physician shortages, according to the association.

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At the Ohio State University College of Medicine, 54 medical students will graduate three weeks early on Sunday to help fight the pandemic, according to the student newspaper, The Lantern.

These students have already been asked to start early by residency programs in New York, Ohio, Texas, California and Minnesota, The Lantern reported.

“The additional support from these volunteer medical students will be indispensable in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic,” James Rocco, interim dean of the College of Medicine, said in a university release. “It speaks to the culture of service at Ohio State that these students are ready to accept this early challenge and help their fellow health care workers on the front lines.”

UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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