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Early Graduation Could Send Medical Students to Virus Front Lines

Early graduation would have medical students available to offer patient care eight weeks earlier than expected.

A number of New...

A number of New York medical schools are still developing proposals for early graduations. Dr. David Muller, dean for medical education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said the school hoped to have a proposal ready to share with students by early next week. The early graduation would most likely occur in mid-April, he added, and would be voluntary, although details need to be worked out. Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine also are working toward early graduations.

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Medical students around the country have spent recent weeks mobilizing to support[3] local physicians. They have staffed coronavirus hotlines, coordinated meal deliveries and even offered their time as babysitters to other medical workers. Many said they were excited to contribute their medical training.

“We see everything the physicians around us are going through and we’re excited we can bring some relief to the physicians who trained and mentored us,” said Greg Peters, a fourth-year student at Harvard who plans to start a residency in emergency care in Boston.

He added, though, that the prospect of early graduation and fast-tracked service came as a surprise. “My classmates and I are Type A people who plan everything out, and our plans are out the window,” he said. “We’re confident in our training, but we’re a little worried about getting thrown in there.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges, a research and advocacy group for medical schools and major teaching hospitals, said it supported the early graduations following L.C.M.E. guidelines, but emphasized the importance of supervision for new graduates.

“As we think about what the role of these new graduates would be, it would need to be under supervision,” said Alison Whelan, the association’s chief medical education officer.

Dr. Abramson said he expected more medical schools around the country to move toward early graduations.

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