COVID—19 has sent many countries into disarray. Twenty six states across America have closed schools and businesses to try to mitigate the effects of the disease’s spread on the population. The novel coronavirus is especially contagious, with nearly 794,000 cases confirmed in the US as of April 20. To combat this growing issue, medical schools around the country have begun to graduate medical students early, in hopes that a larger population of healthcare professionals would be better suited to provide care to this influx of patients. Among the schools graduating students early are Columbia University, Boston University School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine.
On April 4, Governor Cuomo of New York stated that medical schools in New York will be allowed to help ease the burden on healthcare professionals right away. New York had the highest number of cases of COVID—19, 242,786 as of April 20. That is nearly three times the amount in New Jersey, which at that date had the second highest with 85,301 cases. The coronavirus seems to be especially concentrated in the Northeast, so it makes sense that the schools that have been quickest to act are located in these states (for example, the schools listed above are in New York and Massachusetts).
Rutgers University here in New Jersey released a statement on March 28 saying that their students’ graduations will be expedited as well. 154 students are said to be graduating on April 10 with the other 38 students graduating on April 21.
Some citizens have been worried that potentially unprepared students could be moving into the healthcare industry prematurely, but there are systems in place to prevent this. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) is an accrediting body for medical schools. Barbara Barzansky, the co-secretary of the LCME, went on record in an interview with the American Medical Association saying, “If a school can demonstrate a student has met, by looking across the curriculum, the school’s objectives for the medical education program … and the plan has been approved by the medical school’s curriculum committee and student promotions committee, then the LCME has no issue with a student graduating early.”
It seems that this solution not only helps to address the crisis at hand but helps hundreds of students achieve their dreams. Fourth-year medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Randy Casals, said in an interview with the Association of American Medical Colleges that: “It’s been a little frustrating to be so close [to this tragedy] and unable to help; I’ve been itching to get back in...I chose to go into medicine to help people, and I’ve been privileged to be called upon to help during this crisis. I couldn’t not answer that call.”
These new dedicated medical personnel will lend helping hands to healthcare facilities that are now short-handed.