By Ellie Brown, Investigations Correspondent
Over 220 final year medical students at the University will qualify as junior doctors in a virtual ceremony today, allowing them to start jobs as junior doctors months earlier than planned.
According to Bristol Medical School, the new graduates are likely to be working in hospitals 'before the end of April', though this depends on when the General Medical Council (GMC) is able to provisionally register them as doctors.
Graduation and provisional registration of final year students have been fast-tracked across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Guardian recently reported. It is thought that Bristol Medical School is one of the first to qualify its students, graduating via Zoom on 3 April 2020.
The duties of the newly-qualified doctors will include checking on admitted patients, ordering tests and checking results, and assisting more senior doctors. Bristol Medical School will be giving this cohort close support but are 'confident that they are ready for the challenges ahead and will make a strong contribution'.
Indeed, commenting on the national move towards fast-tracked qualification of final year students, Professor Jane Norman, Dean of Health Sciences, said: 'With this additional workforce and all the dedicated retired staff who have recently returned to service, the NHS will be in a much stronger position to look after the nation.'
Most final year medical students seem to be happy with the change, with one student, Megan Kelsey, saying: 'going straight into an NHS hospital at the moment might seem quite daunting however this is a job we’ve been training for five to six years and we’re all really eager to help out in this time of national crisis.
'Whilst this strain on the NHS is unprecedented, there’s equally never been a more rewarding time to start our careers as doctors.'
John Gilbert, another final year medical student, said: 'we are ready to work; we want to help out; and we are entering a well-supported and caring community of NHS professionals who will supervise us.'
Thousands of ex-NHS staff to rejoin service in coronavirus drive https://t.co/QQB42S5Dbv— Guardian Science (@guardianscience) March 23, 2020
However, one final year medical student, who wished to remain anonymous, told us that though the majority of their cohort want to work in hospitals 'regardless' of any risks they face, 'there are definitely people who have decided not to.'
Additionally, 'its not mandatory for us to work during this time and they're ensuring that students that decide not to wouldn't be penalised for it come August [when most new graduates start jobs as junior doctors.]'
'I think the majority of us want to help because realistically we have the capacity to do so, but I think that's paired with the fact that if not, we don't have any other teaching or plans until August' they said.
Featured image: Epigram/Cameron Scheijde
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