University of Rochester medical students graduate early to help fight COVID19

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New doctors will soon be on the frontlines helping to fight the COVID-19 outbreak here in Rochester and across the country.

The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry’s class of 2020 is graduating early. The new doctors will be learning and helping licensed doctors.

“Our medical school along with other medical schools in New York and some across the country recognize the crisis of COVID19 is going to require more people to care for those who are sick,” said Dr. David Lambert, the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education at the University of Rochester.

The 99 new doctors in the 2020 graduating class received their M.D. certificates in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday.

“It wasn’t the celebration that I had imagined four years ago but I think it may have been even better,” said 2020 graduate Dr. Katie Harmer.

The medical degrees came six weeks ahead of schedule, but the new doctors completed all the necessary requirements.

They now have several options. They can either begin their residency early, spend time back home with family, or start caring for patients and work alongside doctors at Strong Memorial Hospital before officially starting their residency.

“I feel fortunate to be in a situation where I have a service that could be potentially helpful. And when we were informed of the potential opportunity to work after we graduated early, I thought of all those people in my life who inspired me and I feel fortunate to contribute to this cause,” said 2020 graduate John DeGuardi.

Of the 99 doctors graduating early, 30 have committed to residencies in the state of New York, and 18 will be completing their residencies here in Rochester.

Irondequoit native Dr. Harmer is one of the 18 who is choosing to complete her residency locally at Strong Memorial Hospital.

“I am a physician and I think that with that privilege comes for me a duty to serve the community that’s got me here and I think I’ve never felt this duty as strongly as I feel it right now. In this time of great need for our community,” Harmer said.

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