Newcastle University holds virtual graduation so 300 junior doctors can join NHS frontline

Students joined the digital event via Flipgrid – a video platform, owned by Microsoft, and designed for students and teachers

Almost 300 medical students have joined the NHS frontline to help fight the growing coronavirus pandemic, following a virtual graduation ceremony held by Newcastle University which saw them graduate online.

The junior doctors graduated four weeks early from their five-year degree after health secretary Matt Hancock called for additional assistance in hospitals and doctor surgeries across the UK.

The response saw 239 medical students sign up for the virtual graduation ceremony – delivered via Microsoft’s Flipgrid, a platform that allowed them to record and upload their Hippocratic Oaths to a custom Flipgrid built by the university.

Since the Oath – a fundamental part of a UK medical degree in which students promise to help patients and uphold the highest ethical standards – wasn’t possible in-person due to the country-wide lockdown, Newcastle’s vice chancellor, president professor and medic, Chris Day, decided to create and host the virtual graduation event.

“No cohort of medical students in peacetime have had to complete their training under the circumstances in which we find ourselves now,” said Day.

“Our students are embarking on their careers as doctors amid an extraordinarily challenging time for our NHS and I am extremely proud of each and every one of them,” he added.

“We understand how hard our students have worked over the last five years to graduate, and how disappointing it is for them not to have a ceremony, so we wanted to mark the occasion the best way we can virtually.”

Sabina Wallace-King, who will soon be on the frontline fighting the devastating effects of the virus, commented: “Although we couldn’t physically attend a ceremony, or celebrate with friends and family in-person, our online graduation helped us feel part of a community before our new roles on the wards.”

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