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Medical students fast-tracked into NHS frontline graduate on Zoom

Junior doctors were asked to design 'inventive mortarboards' for the ceremony

28 April, 2020 — By Tom Foot

The students online graduation ceremony 

MEDICAL students fast tracked onto the NHS frontline during the coronavirus crisis have graduated in University College London’s first ever online ceremony.

More than 300 students at the Gower Street college became junior doctors ahead of schedule with many going to volunteer or work at the Royal Free and University College Hospital earlier this month.

On Saturday, the medical school organised a ceremony on Zoom with the graduating doctors and 700 friends and family joining in.

Many tuned in from their living rooms, kitchens and gardens – while those working on the NHS frontline attended in scrubs. They had been asked to wear unusual hats instead of traditional mortarboards.

Sophie Bracke with her cat-topped mortarboard

Graduate Sophie Bracke, who is currently volunteering at the Royal Free, said: “Although the end of medical school has turned out differently than planned, I still got the outcome I have always dreamed of – to become a doctor.”

She had used her grey kitten Mistie as part of her mortarboard.

Rebecca Mackenzie, who is joining the geriatric ward at UCLH as a doctor in August, said: “The effort made by staff and faculty during these unprecedented times was deeply touching.  Their encouraging words emphasised our readiness for the next step – pandemic or otherwise.”

Rebecca Mackenzie 

Megan Hollands, who is working as a doctor at the Royal Free, said: “I celebrated by sitting outside my flat with some prosecco, wearing a bin bag. it was actually a really lovely thing for the medical school to do.”

Megan Hollands

Eleanor Wilson, who is also a doctor at the Royal Free, said: “It was a special occasion celebrating a remote graduation with friends, family and faculty.

“The virtual ceremony worked well with an awesome array of homemade head pieces and moments to cheer for friends. It will certainly be a time that we will never forget and it calls for a reunion celebration in the future.”

Eleanor Wilson

Addressing the medical graduates down the line, Professor Mark Emberton, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, said: “The whole nation sits in awe of the medical students of the year of 2020 who are going straight into service in order to deal with the unmet need.

“A lot has been said about the burden of what is been asked of you. It is a lot – but you could not be better prepared.”

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