Four Massachusetts medical schools are preparing to graduate their fourth-year students early to boost the number of doctors available to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
UMass Medical School, Harvard Medical School, the Tufts University School of Medicine and the Boston University School of Medicine are all taking the measure.
Dr. Michael Collins, the Chancellor of the Umass Medical School, says he expects about 135 students to graduate early in April. He says this is in case a surge should occur.
"The request was, could we graduate them early," Collins said, "and by so doing, have them prepare to go right to work."
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The request was made by Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
Patrick Lowe is one of the UMass medical students who will graduate early.
"If the health care system needs us, the graduating medical students, we're all ready to step up and help out," he said. "Hopefully this is not a regular thing, and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to give back to the community and take care of people in this really unique environment."
"As med students, we entered this profession to help out, and nearing the end, we have two months left, we'd like to be part of the workforce and support our fellow physicians," said BU medical student Sean Perez.
The move could add hundreds of additional doctors to the workforce during a critical time as the number of infected health care workers continues to rise.
The universities say they're proud of the physicians their students will soon be.
"They could be taking vacations, lots of other things, but at this very special moment, this very unique, unprecedented moment in medicine, they choose to step forward to help their colleagues and to help those whom it would be a privilege to serve," said Collins.
The state has also agreed to give the students a facilitated license for 90 days.