All Fourth-Year Medical Students in Massachusetts Will Graduate Early to Help in the Coronavirus Fight

Massachusetts has asked its four medical schools to allow all fourth-year medical students to graduate early to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"We've been working with the deans of the medical schools in Massachusetts for early graduation so that there's a cadre of individuals who could be licensed," Marylou Sudders, the state's secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday during the governor's daily coronavirus briefing.

The Brief_19, Twitter account, which offers information on ongoing developments during the pandemic, released a picture of a document sent to Boston University School of Medicine students. The post reads: "EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS – Massachusetts becomes the first state to ask all medical schools to graduate all 4th year students early, all deans on board."

The document is an email sent by Dr. Karen Antman, provost of the university's Medical Campus and dean of its School of Medicine. In it, she addresses Sudders' request to the state's medical schools: the Boston University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, the Tufts University School of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"After discussions with our universities, all four Massachusetts medical schools have agreed to graduate our 2020 class in April," Antman writes. "The Boston University School of Medicine Student Evaluation and Promotions Committee will review each student status and determine that students have completed all of their requirements for graduation by April 10, 2020.

"We anticipate that all students who complete their current assignments will have completed their requirements by April 10. We therefore anticipate a virtual graduation date Friday, April 17, 2020," the email states.

Massachusetts is creating a special, expedited licensure process, according to the email. "We know that you will have questions about the licensing, and where and for whom you could potentially work, and are working quickly with Secretary Sudders and colleagues at the other medical schools to get more information," it says.

"Your class is clearly graduating at one of the most medically challenging times of the last century, and will shortly be an important part of our country's response to the COVID-19 challenge," Antman says.

Sudders said during the press conference that as soon as students graduate, the state is "prepared to provide almost automatic 90-day licenses" to increase the workforce to health care professionals.

Massachusetts has 1,838 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to its Department of Health's website, and 15 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. So far, the state has been able to test about 19,800 people.

In the United States, the total number of confirmed cases is at 79,785, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, and 1,124 deaths.

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Hospital clinicians at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts, on March 18. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/Getty
All Fourth-Year Medical Students in Massachusetts Will Graduate Early to Help in the Coronavirus Fight | U.S.