Medical universities propose early graduation of students due to shortage of staff

indica News Bureau-


Due to the massive spread of coronavirus in the US, reaching one lakh and counting, there is a dire shortage of medical staff in the country. In order to make up for the shortage, many medical universities of the country are planning early graduation of final year students of medicine, to enable them to enter the healthcare system that is facing a shortage of medical personnel as the cases are increasing rapidly. Medical colleges in New York and Massachusetts have proposed the early graduation of senior students in the time when the healthcare system is under strain.

New York has become the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in the US and the medical infrastructure in the state has come under tremendous strain as the number of coronavirus cases rapidly increases. The state now has more than 52,000 Covid-19 cases.

New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine announced last week that it is planning to allow senior students to graduate early in response to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly,” reported India Today. NYU was the first to suggest the plan for early graduation, and now many more noted colleges and universities have followers suit.

A report published by CNN said at least 69 students at the NYU medical school want to graduate three months early to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus. As per the report, the executive vice dean at the medical school Steven B Abramson said the university asked about 122 students, who are set to graduate this year, whether they would be willing to start their internship at New York hospitals in April instead of waiting until July. Nearly 70 students have volunteered to graduate, Abramson said.

“It is awe-inspiring and just says a lot about our students and their dedication to take care of people who are sick and to be part of a team of doctors taking care of these patients,” he said.

The school is now waiting for final approval from the New York State Department of Education, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. If the NYU’s proposal is approved by the authorities, the final year students will be placed in internal medicine programs or emergency rooms at NYU-affiliated hospitals in the area.

Gabrielle Mayer, a 4th-year medical student who is planning to join the primary care/internal medicine program at NYU’s Bellevue Hospital, as saying that it was an “easy decision” for her.

“Knowing that we are waiting to graduate and join the workforce, that we have the skill set that seems needed and valuable right now, it was such an easy decision to join my co-residents, co-interns,” the 26-year-old said to CNN.

After NYU’s proposal, Alison Whelan, chief medical education officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) said that though the AAMC has not surveyed the students of other medical schools who wished to graduate early to join the healthcare system, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, was working with several other schools that are considering or offering their students the option of graduating early.

Meanwhile, all four medical schools of Massachusetts are in discussions with the Massachusetts Health and Human Services (MHHS) to have a fast-track option.

The Tufts University School of Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Boston University School of Medicine and the Harvard Medical School are all contemplating the idea, the report quoted MHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders as saying.

New York Governor Cuomo had announced that more than 40,000 healthcare workers, including retirees and students, have signed up to volunteer to work as part of the state’s surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more expected to sign up in the coming weeks.

Additionally, over 6,000 mental health professionals have signed up to provide free online mental health services.

More emergency beds to be placed at three sites for coronavirus patients

New York Governor Cuomo has announced three new sites — South Beach Psychiatric Facility in Staten Island, Westchester Square in the Bronx and SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn — to serve as a place for emergency beds specifically for COVID-19 patients, reported CNN.

The sites will add 695 more beds to the state’s capacity. The state will also begin designating some facilities only for COVID-19 patients.

The federal government has also approved four new sites in New York for constructing temporary hospitals by the Army Corps of Engineers. These sites are at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the Aqueduct Racetrack facility in Queens, CUNY Staten Island and the New York Expo Centre in the Bronx.

These temporary hospitals will add 4,000 beds to the state’s capacity. These sites are part of the Governor’s goal of having a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility in each New York City borough as well as in Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties.