Stating that “Graduating medical students are ready: let’s get them to work,” Chancellor Michael F. Collins announced that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has approved a bold and unprecedented initiative to accelerate the graduation of UMass Medical School’s fourth-year School of Medicine students, thereby providing them with the opportunity to begin their careers as physicians three months early and at a most critical time when they will be able to promptly shore up hospital medical staff.
The other three medical schools in Massachusetts—Tufts, Boston University and Harvard—joined UMMS in this effort, which was announced today by Gov. Charlie Baker and Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “The spread of COVID-19, now a global pandemic, calls for bold approaches to increase our medical resources quickly to combat this disease,” said Chancellor Collins. “Hospitals are near the brink of being overwhelmed as ever-increasing numbers of patients seek care, while increasing numbers of clinical staff find themselves in self-quarantine after being exposed to the virus.”
“While this is voluntary for members of our graduating class, in Massachusetts alone, accelerating the graduation of students at all four medical schools could infuse our health care delivery system with more than 700 new physician caregivers.”
“Just last Friday, we celebrated—virtually, of course—with our 135 talented fourth-year medical students as they learned of their most impressive matches at leading hospitals across the country,” said Terence R. Flotte, MD, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. “While in a typical year our graduating students’ tenure as resident physicians would begin July 1, we applaud all who have come together—our state’s political and public health leaders, medical schools, and licensing and regulatory bodies—to provide medical students with the opportunity to put their ability and enthusiasm to work now, where they are needed most. These students are well-educated, prepared, care deeply about their community and, with appropriate supervision, are eager to join the front lines of patient care.”
“We have no doubt our medical students are up to the task,” said Collins. “In recent weeks, they have mobilized volunteer efforts to bring in donations of protective equipment from research labs, assisted medical center employee health with telephone triage of exposures and provided other much-needed support to clinical staff on the front lines. We applaud the governor and secretary for leading this unique collaboration on behalf of the health of our commonwealth and for allowing our medical students to do what they have trained for years to do: treat the patients for whom it will be their privilege to care.”