The NYU Langone Health center in Manhattan, New York
The NYU Langone Health center in Manhattan, New York
Photo: Getty Images

New York University and others are set to allow medical students to graduate and enter the medical field early—if they want to—all in an effort to shore up hospitals grappling with the covid-19 epidemic.

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The Grossman School of Medicine at NYU was the first to lay out its proposal, following discussions with senior students who wished to know how they could help as well as a plea by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week to medical schools and students asking if they could help with the state’s public health response to covid-19.

Under the NYU plan, volunteers who have met the full eligibility for graduation will be allowed to do so in April, rather than the typical graduation date in May. These students would enter temporary internship programs at NYU-affiliated facilities, either in the internal medicine or emergency department, with full compensation provided as usual. The internships would be available to any student, regardless of their chosen area of medicine and where they were originally assigned to continue on in their residency programs, which would still start as scheduled.

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The plan, however, is still contingent on approval from relevant state agencies, such as the New York State Department of Education and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), a representative for NYU told Gizmodo.

Other schools are now enacting or considering similar plans. On Friday, NYC-based Columbia University announced that it would move its graduation date to April 15 for eligible students at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Those who wish to help out with the covid-19 crisis would be employed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital until departing for their residency. Graduating students would also be able to volunteer in other ways, such as screening patients by phone or videochat.

“We will guarantee that you will not be adversely affected in terms of any documented financial aid commitments, even if from outside of Columbia University, because of this one-month advancement in your graduation date,” the school said in its letter to students sent March 26.

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In a statement sent to Gizmodo, Boston-based Harvard Medical School said that an early graduation for its students was also under consideration but that no final decision has been made yet.

“As part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, Harvard Medical School is collaborating with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, hospitals and other medical schools in the region and is actively exploring the option of early graduation and granting of medical degrees to those students who meet the graduation requirements,” the school’s statement said.

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Not all medical schools, however, are considering opting in. A representative for the University of Washington told Gizmodo that the school has no plans at this time for early graduation, citing already overwhelmed residency programs and the ongoing need to secure enough personal protective equipment for health care workers.

Science writer at Gizmodo and pug aficionado elsewhere

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