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A message of thanks to medical students and foundation doctors

28.07.20

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted public life in ways never before seen in peacetime. This is particularly true for medical students and foundation interim year 1 (FiY1) doctors who have quickly adjusted to working in the NHS during a public health crisis. Thousands of students, across all years of study, have volunteered their time to support the NHS during this pandemic. As your colleagues, and on behalf of UK medical schools, we are very appreciative and proud of the skill, selflessness and resilience you have demonstrated in your roles.

For final year medical students, the transition to professional practice came much sooner and faster than expected. On the 24th March, the Health Secretary announced that final year medical students would be able to enter the NHS workforce early to help reduce the burden on the health service. By the beginning of May, around 4500 newly graduated doctors had applied for provisional registration. Choosing to join the health service months earlier than planned and in circumstances that have not been seen in peacetime is testament to these graduates’ commitment to the NHS, their colleagues and the public.

It is inevitable that many graduates will have felt anxious upon entering these new roles. This is completely normal and to be expected. This pandemic represents a formidable challenge to the most seasoned clinicians, who have had time to adjust to a rapidly changing healthcare environment. As your colleagues, know that we value your contributions and wish to support you as much as we can.

While you graduated early in response to the pandemic, remember too that you are no less capable than other medical graduates. Your graduation is testament to the fact that you have met the GMC’s required outcomes to graduate. Over the past months, your colleagues will have seen you become more confident in applying your clinical knowledge and in developing your interactions with patients and fellow staff. Rest assured that the foundation of relationships, skills and resilience you have built during this period will serve you throughout your careers.

The implications of the pandemic on the NHS stretch far beyond the short-term and the health service faces challenges that could take many months to overcome. While medical schools are committed to helping the NHS respond to the pandemic, the long term resilience of the health service depends on their ability to produce highly capable medical graduates. Medical schools are committed to ensuring that students receive the education and training they need to meet the appropriate standard to progress through their degree.  

Finally, as you return to medical school or begin foundation training, remember that you are a valued member of the medical profession. This pandemic will one day end and you will remember this time. It may well be the most formative experience of your career. Be proud of your achievements and trust that your knowledge, skills and experience will guide you on the journey ahead.

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