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Coronavirus: Exeter medical students help NHS by graduating early

Molly Dineen throwing her mortarboard in the air Image copyright Molly Dineen
Image caption Molly Dineen said being in her garden was "not quite how she expected" to graduate, but the digital ceremony was "special" nonetheless

University of Exeter medical students have volunteered to graduate early to work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 95 students were due to become junior doctors in the south west in August, but will now begin earlier.

Molly Dineen, 24, described the situation as "daunting", but she "instinctively" wanted to help.

She said: "I'm lucky that I've had lots of experience in the hospitals over the last two or three years, so I feel as ready as I'll ever be."

The plan for the students is to partner with more experienced junior doctors to learn the ropes.

The hope is this will help alleviate pressure in hospitals, allowing more experienced staff to work in critical care.

Image copyright David Harvey
Image caption David Harvey made his makeshift mortarboard from a spare fez and a square of cardboard

The ceremony was held virtually, with everyone reciting and recording their Hippocratic oaths together.

David Harvey, 22, from Kent, acknowledged starting his career in this crisis was unexpected, but the pressure did not change anything.

"We're doing this to care for patients and we do that however and whenever we can," he said.

Mr Harvey said a recording of the choir made the ceremony personally special, as he has been singing to add "pomp and circumstance" to graduations for years.

Molly Dineen, from Winchester, said the day was arguably "more personal" than a physical ceremony.

She said: "It was from my back garden and not quite how I expected it, but was very special."

James Farquhar, 23, said he felt prepared to begin work.

He said: "There's been no better time to get stuck in and help out where I can."

Image copyright James Farquhar
Image caption James Farquhar described the unconventional ceremony as "heart-warming"

Mr Farquhar, from Cheltenham, added the ceremony was "heart-warming", with recorded messages of support and advice from staff.

"Some of them even made a music video, like a sing-song where they remixed something.

"I think it was Coldplay," he added.

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