Medical Students Are Graduating Early From NYU to Help With Coronavirus Outbreak

New York University's medical school is offering its senior students the chance to graduate early so they can help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The Grossman School of Medicine made the unprecedented offer to the class of 2020 in an email on Tuesday afternoon, medical news publication Brief19 first reported. Those who accept the offer would start working as soon as April, three months earlier than the usual July start date for graduates.

A spokesperson for the medical school, which suspended classes this month as the coronavirus outbreak worsened, confirmed to Newsweek that the offer was made "in response to Governor Cuomo's directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly."

NYU Langone
The NYU Langone Health center is seen as coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 16, 2020 in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

"In response to the growing spread of COVID-19, and in response to Governor Cuomo's directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU have agreed to permit early graduation for its medical students, pending approval from the New York State Department of Education, Middle States and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education," the spokesperson said.

The email from the school's deans said eligible students can graduate early if they "voluntarily agree" to start working as paid interns at NYU Langone Health's Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine departments.

"With the growing spread of COVID-19, our hospitals inundated with patients, and our colleagues on the front lines working extra-long hours, we are still short-staffed in emergency and internal medicine. Burnout of our doctors has become a growing concern," the email said.

The email read, "We ask for your help. The Medical School and the University have agreed to permit early graduation for students who agree to begin working as an intern now.

"This is consistent with a national discussion regarding the early graduation of eligible medical students so they can join the healthcare workforce prior to the typical July 1 start date."

The email added that they can start working there even if they had not been planning to work in the fields of internal medicine or emergency medicine.

Those who are interested in graduating early must meet all graduation requirements and fill out a survey by Wednesday afternoon, the email added.

"I'm nervous, humbled, and grateful to be given the opportunity to help my friends and colleagues in any way that I can," one graduating student told Brief19 after getting the email. "I'm proud of my classmates for the efforts they've shown going above and beyond in responding to an unprecedented health emergency."

No other medical school in the U.S. has announced such plans, according to Brief 19. But in Italy, which has seen more deaths from the coronavirus than any other country, more than around 10,000 students could skip their final exams to head straight into the workforce.

University minister Gaetano Manfredi said this year's graduates could get a nine-month head start in working in the health sector to ease the pressure on a health service that is struggling due the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters

The graduating students would begin working in New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country The state has 25,665 confirmed cases COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 218 deaths as of Wednesday morning, according to a tally by The New York Times.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of March 25.

This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of March 25. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.