Accelerated Graduation and the Deployment of New Physicians During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Acad Med. 2020 Oct;95(10):1492-1494. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003540.


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges and opportunities for medical schools in the United States. In this Invited Commentary, the authors describe a unique collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), the only public medical school in the state; the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC); and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Through this partnership, UMMS was able to graduate fourth-year medical students 2 months early and deploy them to UMMMC to care for patients and alleviate workforce shortages during the COVID-19 surge, which peaked in Massachusetts in April 2020. The authors describe how they determined if students had fulfilled graduation requirements to graduate early, what commencement and the accompanying awards ceremony looked like this year as virtual events, the special emergency 90-day limited license these new graduates were given to practice at UMMMC during this time, and the impact these new physicians had in the hospital allowing residents and attendings to be redeployed to care for COVID-19 patients.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections
  • Health Workforce / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Pandemics / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Physicians / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Physicians / supply & distribution*
  • Pneumonia, Viral
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States