UCL Medical School


Covid-19: UCL’s medical students join frontline NHS as doctors

2 April 2020

More than 300 of UCL’s medical students will be fast-tracked through graduation this week, ready to be made frontline NHS doctors, as part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

New medical graduates Oliver and Megan will be joining the NHS frontline

Answering the call by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, today (Wednesday 1 April 2020) UCL Medical School graduated its final year students, who had just recently passed their final exams. 

Under emergency measures, this will enable the students to apply to the General Medical Council (GMC) for a provisional registration on the medical register, enabling them to become FIY1 (Foundation Interim Year 1) doctors.

Of the 304 final year UCL medical students who have graduated, we are aware of at least 200 who are already volunteering with the NHS. We now expect many of our graduates will use their GMC registration and formally join the NHS, as part of its drive to recruit medically trained professionals, including 5,500 medical students, to assist the coronavirus effort.

The UCL students, soon to be FIY1 doctors, who apply for the scheme will shortly learn which NHS hospital they will be placed in.

In normal circumstances, UCL’s final year medical students would undertake several months of intensive clinical electives and apprenticeship-style work placements after their exams to prepare them for the front line – before starting work in the NHS in August as FIY1 doctors.

Professor Deborah Gill, Director of UCL Medical School, said: “This is an altruistic, adaptable and inspirational cohort of medical students who have answered the call for action and are eager to utilise their skills to help the NHS – we could not be any prouder.

"In this time of crisis, we recognise and support the emergency measures by UK Government and the GMC in fast-tracking final year students; however, they are entering the workforce short of months of intensive preparation for their role.

"Our hope is they will be well supported practically and emotionally as they enter the fray.”

The successful UCL medical students have been awarded an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery).

Those who ‘opt in’ to the emergency NHS recruitment scheme will be able to choose if they work near UCL Medical School, London, or near to the region where their original Foundation Doctor placement had been arranged – which could be anywhere in the UK.

Dr Faye Gishen, Associate Head of the MBBS at UCL, said: “Our newly graduated foundation interim doctors will be at the coalface of the NHS frontline dealing with many patients who have coronavirus.

“They will play an instrumental role within clinical teams, which they have been prepared for throughout their medical education, but we recognise these unusual circumstances will be both professionally and emotionally challenging.

“This will be a period they will never forget, and while they have now graduated and are no longer UCL students, we will be here to offer our advice and support.”

It is not thought these early graduated doctors will be deployed to the Nightingale Hospital at London’s Excel Centre, or equivalent emergency Covid-19 facilities in Birmingham or Manchester. Instead they will be placed in hospitals where they are more familiar with the working environment and supervision structures.

MBBS graduate Megan Hollands is currently volunteering at the Royal Free Hospital, London, and intends to apply to become an FIY1 doctor through the NHS’s Covid-19 recruitment.

“Volunteering during this crisis just felt like the right thing to do. Our electives and graduation had been cancelled, and I know a lot of us wanted to be able to do something to help,” she said.

“Before starting, I felt nervous that I wouldn't be of much help as I've never experienced something quite like this. Luckily, I've had a fantastic team who explained that this is a very different way of practicing medicine and I would learn quickly.

“On one hand, I've definitely found some situations scary and sad, and experienced things I would never have as an FY1, but on the other, I am thankful that I have the skills to be a part of the effort, and I think this experience will make us all better doctors. It's a baptism of fire, but I've never been prouder to be a part of the NHS.”

MBBS graduate OIiver Ingham Clark is currently volunteering at the Royal Free Hospital, London, and intends to apply to become an FIY1 doctor once he’s completed his GMC registration.  

“I feel like it is important to help out during this unprecedented situation and provide some slack in the teams within hospital,” he said. 

“In volunteering for the NHS I have now spent six 12 hour shifts with the same team at the Royal Free Hospital, so I’m less anxious now.

“I have been very much welcomed and appreciated by my colleagues and it has been great to feel like a useful member of the team and develop my skills as a doctor.

“Volunteering, along with the extensive preparation gained at UCL Medical School, has given me the confidence to register with the GMC and take up the role of a foundation doctor.”

Roshni Goodka, another MBBS graduate, is currently volunteering at her local GP surgery in Hatch End, north-west London, helping coordinate their volunteer response to support vulnerable patients. She has not yet decided whether she will apply to join the NHS, as part of the Covid-19 recruitment, or continue volunteering locally.

“This is not how anyone pictured the end of their final year but after all university teaching was put on hold and plans to go abroad were cancelled, volunteering where we could just made sense,” she said.

“Not having the experience of my colleagues who have been working, I didn’t know what help I could be, but my local GP practice was very welcoming and I’ve just slotted in where I can.

“Each day is varied and in addition to sitting in clinics, I’ve also been on reception and coordinating volunteers to help the most vulnerable patients in the area. The team is great and you can see the camaraderie and extra work everyone is putting in to pull together and get through in these challenging times.

“It’s been a privilege to be able to help in my local community and reassure vulnerable patients who are anxious about the next few months. It’s not been the preparation for practice experience the medical school had planned for us, but this short time has made me more confident in my communication and practical skills and I feel better equipped to start working on the wards.”



MBBS graduates Oliver Ingham Clark and Megan Hollands, who provided the photos

Media contact 

Henry Killworth 

Tel: +44 (0) 207 679 5296

E: h.killworth [at] ucl.ac.uk