Junior doctors to graduate in ‘virtual ceremony’ due to Covid-19 lockdown

A virtual ceremony will be held in Shetland today (Friday) to mark the graduation of six medical students stranded due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

The official graduation at Aberdeen University, with their parents present, has been cancelled amid the pandemic – so a special event will be held at the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick instead.

The ceremony will take place in the hospital’s canteen with just a few staff present but will be live-streamed on Facebook through NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson’s Facebook page.

To watch, people do not have to “friend” Mr Dickson but simply visit his page (Michael Dickson NHS) at 3pm.

The ceremony – marking the graduation of junior doctors Bianca-Rose Low, Alisdair Phillips, Ellen Parkinson, Calum McCoss, Lucy Buchanan and Samuel Nixon – will also available to watch afterwards.

NHS Shetland director of medical education Pauline Wilson said the doctors had arrived in the isles at the beginning of March for the final eight weeks of their medical training ahead of their graduation and a month’s holiday before commencing work.

However, with the escalation of the pandemic, their plans took a different turn.

“They have hit the deck running facing the biggest health emergency the world has ever seen,” Dr Wilson said.

“What is so incredible is that they have all volunteered to sacrifice their holiday, which after years of study is well earned, to stay on and serve the Shetland community until this is over.”

The new doctors will now only leave Shetland in August.

Mr Dickson said that while the doctors had lost out on a milestone event, the Shetland community would ensure they would have a graduation that would be a “highlight of their lives”.

He added: “From all of us we wish them well in their careers and thank them for so quickly stepping up to help a community in need during a very difficult time.”

For the graduation they will be led into the hospital canteen to the strains of Gaudeamus igitur – popular academic ceremony song.

After the introductions they will be capped – in a uniquely Shetland way – and recite the Hippocratic Oath with their families watching the livestream.

Social distancing means even their colleagues won’t all be able to witness the event in person but can follow the broadcast. They will be on hand to applaud them though when they leave the canteen.

In the new graduates’ honour, staff in the Gilbert Bain Hospital will all wear the scrubs made over the last few weeks by the local community to help ease pressure on hospital garb during the coronavirus emergency.


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