WATCH: Chief Medical Officer and President of Ireland congratulate UL medical graduates

UL medical graduates

UL medical graduates have been congratulated by the President of UL, the Chief Medical Officer and the President of Ireland. UL President, Dr Des Fitzgerald. Picture: Sean Curtin/ True Media

WATCH: Chief Medical Officer and President of Ireland congratulate UL medical graduates 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and President Michael D Higgins have sent congratulations to over 130 new doctors who have graduated from the University of Limerick.

The final year students at the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) are UL’s first-ever cohort of students to be conferred remotely in absentia due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The full class of 132 Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (BMBS) 2020 graduates received their exam results Wednesday, April 29 and having been conferred, their degree results will be forwarded to the Irish Medical Council for registration so they can begin work as soon as possible.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said in a special video message to the students: “I’m glad to have the opportunity to celebrate with you a wonderful achievement in graduating from the University of Limerick medical school.”

“I grew up in the locality, I didn’t have the opportunity because there was no medical school there, so your graduation is not only a testament to the work you have put in but also the vision and the work of the University authorities and leaders over a number of years and your deans and everybody else in the medical school, to put you in the position to be able to graduate from a fine University and to have this achievement as one to which you can be enormously proud,” said Dr Holohan.

“The environment in which you are now moving into is going to be hugely challenged by the coronavirus epidemic that we face. It will create a significant reality for us, which is very different from what any of us experienced who are in the position that you are in today.”

“That is a challenge that I know you will rise to, and today is a day of wonderful achievement – you are coming to a wonderful profession. Your choice of career will be enormous in the future. If you are inspired to do public health, get in touch,” Dr Holohan added.

UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald paid tribute to the newly qualified doctors, congratulating them on a “terrific achievement” and “to be proud” of themselves.

“These are extraordinary times and here we are, conferring upon you your degrees in absentia,” he said in a recorded message. “A global disease has reached us, we must do the one thing that prevents this disease from spreading – stay apart. Normally, this hall would be full with the students and families seated in the stalls. However, we are in a different time and we must adapt.”

Dr Fitzgerald hailed the new medics as they prepare to take to the fight against COVID-19. “In a few weeks, you will be in the hospitals and clinics here and abroad. You have been asked to start early, but don’t worry, your education and training at UL has prepared you for the challenge.”

“It might seem daunting, but you will work with experienced nurses and doctors as part of a team that will guide you and support you. Some of you will be assigned to teams looking after COVID-19 patients, in our hospitals here, overseas or to a field hospital, like the one being developed on the campus.”

“Everything you have heard is correct, this is a dangerous virus, your colleagues and you may contract the disease, but we have learned a lot in the past few months. I won’t sugar coat this, you are the vanguard in the fight against a deadly disease, so listen to your colleagues on the frontline and you will prevail.”

The UL President added: “The remote conferring was not how we would have chosen to celebrate the extraordinary achievement of your last four years at the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, but by keeping apart we are saving lives every day.”

“Although we cannot mark this occasion in person, know that at UL and especially at GEMS, we celebrate you, we celebrate your success and you will remain in our minds and hearts as you go forward to the front line in tackling this pandemic both here at home and abroad.”

President Michael D Higgins said in his message to the graduates: “ I understand that students have awoken abruptly to changes in their way of life, and that uncertainty, anxiety and fear has taken hold in our universities and communities, but it is encouraging to see how so many people are acting in solidarity with others.”

“Students have risen to the challenges posed by the precautionary measures, thanks to all those who have supported the students throughout their studies and best wishes on your virtual conferring occasion”.

Professor Rachel Msetfi, Executive Dean, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences at UL, said: “The graduation marks the culmination of four years of studying and hard work in hospitals, GP practices and community health settings.”

“During this journey, you have supported and learned from each other, and been facilitated in your learning by the commitment of the excellent staff of the Graduate Entry Medical School and our partners across the health sector, without whose support your education could not take place.” UL medical graduates UL medical graduates

“Your educational journey has no doubt been challenging and during this time you have found the strength and tenacity to keep going and have benefited from the support of your family and friends.”

“The last part of your programme took place during particularly challenging times, as you have been preparing to embark on your medical careers during an unprecedented global pandemic. Many of you will shortly take up internships and be on the frontline of the health services.” 

“There will certainly be challenges ahead and the education you have received during your time at the University of Limerick will stand you in good stead to cope with these,” she added. 

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