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Medical Class of 2020 to step forward and join the NHS after historic online graduation

300 final-year MBBS students have now graduated early as part of the University’s first ever online ceremony, receiving dozens of messages of encouragement and gratitude as they prepare to support the NHS.

As the NHS faces unprecedented strain in the midst of COVID-19, the Secretary of State has asked medical schools around the UK to bring forward the graduation of final year medical students. This will allow them to begin work in clinical practice as soon as possible, to add vitally needed capacity to our health service.

Our Newcastle University ceremony took place Friday, 3 April, with the opening speech delivered by Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University:

“Welcome everyone to this extraordinary ceremony, which marks a new chapter in the history of Newcastle University. It is my great pleasure to preside over this virtual ceremony for the MBBS Class of 2020, which marks your graduation with degrees awarded by the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

“You are indeed making history today, not only because you are the first medical graduates to have your degrees conferred virtually, but also because no cohort of students in peacetime will ever have had to complete their training in the circumstances that we now find ourselves.

“You are about to embark on your careers as doctors in the most challenging times for our wonderful National Health Service. The coming weeks and months will be a baptism of fire for many of you, but I am confident that at Newcastle University you have received a medical education of the highest quality, and one with an outstanding reputation for preparing its graduates to work as doctors in the NHS. This has never been of more importance to our city, to our region and to our country than it is right now.”

You can listen to the full virtual ceremony here.

Another touching message was from poet, artist and University Chancellor, Imtiaz Dharker, who delivered a poem from Michael Rosen along with her own inspiring words:

“I want to spend a special message of hope and thanks. You could not have imagined, when you came to this faculty, that the skills you have acquired here would be needed so urgently by the country now; and that on the day you take this Hippocratic Oath, the lives of so many people would be put into your hands.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am that Newcastle University has prepared 300 of you to make this valuable contribution, to go out today and take your place in our NHS.”

To listen to these and over a dozen more messages from esteemed members of the Newcastle University faculty, visit Supporters of the MBBS class of 2020. You can read the full poem below:

These are the hands

These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.

These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip.

These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.

And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.

© Michael Rosen

published on: 6 April 2020