Photo of tasseled graduation mortarboard with a stethoscope on top

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Medical Students Graduate Early to Fight COVID-19

April 17, 2020

Fourth-year osteopathic medical students typically graduate in May, taking well-deserved time to decompress, travel, or spend time with family before their residencies begin on July 1. This spring will be drastically different for the Class of 2020, many of whom have chosen to graduate early and assist in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On April 15, eligible medical students from NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) graduated early in support of Governor Cuomo’s Emergency Orders to allow the state’s fourth-year medical students to receive physician licenses upon graduation. Of the 118 students eligible to graduate early, 80 percent expressed interest in joining the workforce ahead of schedule.

The early graduates will not be starting their residencies ahead of time, but will likely work in hospitals at the level of an intern until their residencies begin. While some hospitals will pay early graduates the same salary as a first-year resident, many can only allocate positions for volunteers, underscoring the fact that these new physicians will truly put their desire to heal others before personal gain.

“As a health care institution, we have a responsibility to step in when there is a crisis,” said Jerry Balentine, D.O., dean of NYITCOM and vice president for health sciences and medical affairs. “At the same time, our students showed an incredible level of interest in volunteering and helping out. As dean, this is a really proud moment for me, to see so many of my students stepping up to the plate.”

On April 1, fourth-year medical students Max Cohen, (D.O. ’20) who matched in pediatrics at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital (Westchester Medical Center), and Karen Dermer (D.O. ’20), who matched in pediatrics at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, were featured in a Fox 5 New York segment on their early graduation plans. Similar coverage also appeared in a social media news story by NowThisNews.