On Friday, April 3, 52 students at NYU Grossman School of Medicine graduated more than a month early in a virtual ceremony, joined by their families and the school’s leaders. NYU Grossman School of Medicine was the first medical school in the nation to offer early graduation to fourth-year medical students to help treat people with 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
It was a unique ceremony, unlike any in the school’s history; the remarkable group of students—who have all completed their graduation requirements—answered the call to join the workforce early, as interns in NYU Langone’s internal medicine or emergency medicine departments.
“Your choice to join us in this fight is inspirational,” said Steven B. Abramson, MD, vice dean for education, faculty and academic affairs, noting that the students’ teachers would now become their colleagues on the units. “We salute your courage and dedication and look forward to working with you in the coming months as members of what we now call the COVID army.”
Some students, who were visible on the live teleconference, recognized the occasion by wearing their cap and gown, or toasting their fellow graduates with a glass of champagne. Many were joined on the call by loved ones, seated next to partners or with families standing behind them.
Recognizing the difficult decision the students made to join the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, Linda R. Tewksbury, MD, associate dean for student affairs, applauded their bravery. “You are courageous, you are compassionate, you are filled with knowledge, you are skillful. You are our future, you are our heroes, and we could not be more proud.”
The ceremony also included a moving video tribute, featuring congratulations and words of encouragement from faculty and mentors, saluting these members of the historic class of 2020.
Though muted, students silently applauded their fellow graduates as Dr. Tewksbury read each name. Robert I. Grossman, MD, chief executive officer of NYU Langone Health and dean of NYU Grossman School of Medicine, then led the newly minted MDs in an unmuted recitation of the Hippocratic oath.
The small group of 52 is the first class to graduate from the newly renamed NYU Robert I. Grossman School of Medicine; Kenneth G. Langone, chair of the board of trustees of NYU Langone Health, announced the new name in honor of the current dean of the school in November. He also addressed the graduates during the ceremony: “The thing that makes someone a great doctor that we can’t teach is compassion. Each of you are showing by your willingness to jump in the trenches and fight this battle with us that you have compassion and understand why you are a doctor and wanted to become a doctor. I can assure you this is a graduation I’ll never forget.”
Dr. Grossman gave the new doctors a special thanks. “This institution is so full of pride that we produced an amazing class of physicians,” he said. “You answered a clarion call from those in need when the world was crying out for doctors. Your careers will be special. You will make us proud. Stay safe, be well, and congratulations from all of us.”