NYU is allowing early graduation for med school students if they start working in April

This shouldn’t surprise anyone: healthcare workers are at extreme risk of becoming infected with the novel coronavirus . I was talking with a friend who works in a hospital, and she said that the number of patients is going to keep climbing, so, of course, hospital staff are going to get infected. She has been told to keep coming to work, even if she gets sick. The CDC has repeatedly loosened its guidance for workers because of the mask shortage. Whereas workers should be wearing N95 respirators when interacting with people, the CDC has said that wearing surgical masks is fine. It isn’t, of course. The CDC has said that masks can be reused (they shouldn’t be), and that, in their absence, bandanas are acceptable (no, they are not). As of Thursday evening, there were 83,329 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States: We have more confirmed cases here than any other place in the world. We need all the medical professionals who are out there.

To help meet this demand, New York University is letting its medical students who were due to graduate in June graduate now if they go work in a hospital where they are needed most, and New York City is an epicenter of the outbreak: On Thursday, 3,101 people were diagnosed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the city to 23,112.

Medical students at New York University could have the chance to graduate early in an effort to bring more doctors to the front lines of the battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

“In response to the growing spread of COVID-19, and in response to Governor Cuomo’s directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU have agreed to permit early graduation for its medical students, pending approval from the New York State Department of Education, Middle States and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME),” a spokesperson for NYU said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

According to a screenshot of an email reportedly sent to students in the 2020 graduating class obtained by brief19.com, students may graduate early if they have met all graduation requirements “voluntarily agree to work as an MD in our Internal Medicine or Emergency Medicine Departments beginning in April.”

[From People]

Other medical schools are also letting students graduate early. One epidemiologist told CNN that he believes that the number of cases in the U.S. could peak in two to three weeks. Ira Longini, a professor at the Center for Statistics and Quantitative Infectious Diseases at the University of Florida, is working on COVID-19 modeling with the CDC. Other experts disagreed with the specifics that Logrini provided in his data analysis, and two “broadly agreed with the estimate.” Regardless, at the moment, the number of confirmed cases is increasing, and we have a shortage of equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff, and a looming bed shortage. We need all the willing, qualified professionals that we can find. If medical students have met all their requirements, it makes complete sense to let them go work where they are most needed. I hope that other medical schools follow NYU’s lead, and am indescribably grateful to everyone who decides to take on this heroic, dangerous work.



Photos credit: Jeff Denlea, Jonathan Borba and Anna Shvets via Pexels

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15 Responses to “NYU is allowing early graduation for med school students if they start working in April”

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  1. Carobell says:

    I’m happy that they’ll get to practive, but sad because a field promotion typically happens because the person in that role has died. This makes my skin crawl. Stay home every one.

  2. JMR says:

    Canadian nurse here: Per Health Canada’s guidelines for HCW during covid 19, the only time you should wear an N95 mask is during procedures that can generate aerosolized particles (eg. intubation, ventilation). For regular interactions with positive, symptomatic patients a surgical mask coupled with goggles/eye shield should be just fine (plus gown and gloves, obviously).

    And this is part of what is so frustrating: different sources are saying different things. But my understanding is if the infection is spread by droplets (like covid 19), for regular contact with patients an N95 mask is not necessary.

    • marmalazed says:

      That’s exactly right. I work for an organization that comprises one of the leading infectious disease labs in the world and a hospital system with front line healthcare providers. At the highest level, this is what I am hearing. They have established protocols for cleaning and reusing ventilators. They’re not just winging it. The difference now is that there is a supply shortage. It’s not that they’re suddenly willing to put people at risk.

  3. SomeChick says:

    This is a great idea. Hopefully more med schools will do this.

    Nice selection of stock photos, Quimby!

  4. Emma says:

    I’m a resident and a little torn. Residency is tough and getting the extra 2 months to relax is what we all look forward to. But I understand this is a dire situation so hopefully when all is said and done, they can be given a break in their schedules. Since intern year is another year of rotations essentially, they wouldn’t be losing much from the program they matched for

  5. DebDowner says:

    Brand new interns are just more bodies on the fire, they don’t have the skills or practical knowledge needed. It is admirable that the students are volunteering for it, but there is a tremendous amount of upfront training and supervision needed for new interns that likely isn’t going to be in place due to the pandemic. Saying this as a medical student clerkship director.

    • Charlotte says:

      This. I’m an MD in a university hospital and a new rotation of interns just inflates the workload. There is a lot of teaching and monitoring involved. Medicine is hard and very theoretical and when you first start working you hardly know anything that you can immediately put in practice. There is just a lot of learning ‘in the field’ so throwing these new graduates in the deep end seems like a bad idea overall. Maybe a buddy system could work though for the first weeks/months.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        Another MD here. I cosign the above.

      • recklesskellie says:

        As a nurse, I can tell you brand new med school grads are like baby deer. They really know almost nothing practical and require step by step help the first year. Everything from priming IV tubing to mask/bagging a patient. Not helpful.

  6. Lisa says:

    Hopefully it will be enough.

  7. Leah says:

    It’s going to be like throwing a child into the deep end of a pool to see if they sink or swim.

    You can have all the education in the world but experience is what makes a person good in their profession. I hope that they have enough experienced doctors there to watch the efforts of the interns and to correct their mistakes.

  8. lucy2 says:

    I can’t imagine how that must feel, stepping into this nightmare with little to no experience. Trial by fire. I hope they are able to help the doctors and nurses already fighting this.

    I saw a story yesterday that a big stockpile on N95 was found in the National Cathedral, of all places, and a bunch of big companies had stockpiles they’re now donating. They’re a little late, but better than hoarding them, I suppose.

  9. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    This sounds like a great idea in theory but I have concerns about sending green medical students into a war zone. Much like teaching a child to swim by throwing them in the deep end of the pool. I mean, we can use all the help we can get but isn’t tossing a bunch of interns into the mix going to increase the workload on already overworked and stressed out doctors.

  10. Ava4eva says:

    Start working? I think they vastly underestimate what it’s like when a medical student becomes an intern. You don’t know anything. You’ve spent years reading books but have no clue how to properly care for a patient. You need supervision and help. IT is legitimately like drinking from a fire hydrant. This is not the time to put students that don’t know what is going on into a high stress situation.

    Also work where? These kids have matched at residencies in different states. They’re going to move and start 3 months early? What about credentialing?

    And this is a physician talking.

    • helloitsme says:

      As a physician myself, it is common knowledge that the month of July is the worst. Loads of new staff who have no idea what they are doing let alone where the bathroom is and you have to do your regular job and theirs too. I cannot imagine that feeling in the middle of a pandemic.

      Hopefully, they will function as CNAs or MAs since they will not be credentialed for typical positions as MDs. They will need to accept this. Their education will take a back seat to the critically-ill patients flooding in.