Newly qualified doctors at Princess of Wales Hospital have graduated at a socially-distanced ceremony to celebrate their achievements. The Year Five medical students donned caps and gowns and were presented with a scroll in the innovative ceremony, after the traditional graduation was cancelled due to Covid restrictions.
Almost 20 graduates attended the occasion in the main lecture theatre at the hospital’s Multi Professional Education Centre. The new doctors robed in MPEC’s spacious atrium before the ceremony, during which they sat in alternate rows, more than two metres apart, and were each called to the stage in turn. On stage, they picked up their scrolls but were unable to shake hands with their course lecturers. The graduates also took the Hippocratic Oath before the ceremony ended with the Welsh national anthem.
Consultant gastroenterologists Tom Yapp and Gary Constable congratulated the graduates from the side of the stage and there were also video speeches from Professor Steve Riley, Head of School of Medicine at Cardiff University, and Princess of Wales clinical director Dr Anthony Gibson, who thanked the students for their contributions during a ‘once in a generation’ challenge.
Graduate Dr Eileen Muckian, who is now considering a career as a GP, thoroughly enjoyed the degree course. She said: “We had patient contact early on, which was really useful. The first year was difficult as many of us came far from home, but starting to see the patients reminded us why we wanted to do this.”
Dr Wan Li Cheah, who is interested in palliative care and psychiatry, said: “Seeing the patients really put everything into context, while everything got easier from the third year onwards, when we were able to do more. It’s been a very good grounding and preparation.”
Dr Rhys Andrews, who is considering a career in geriatric psychiatry, was one of the students involved in the hospital’s Covid workforce. “I worked in the suspected Covid bay, where the team was amazing,” he said. “The placements have all been interesting and, now we’ve done our finals, we can make more of a difference.”
Honorary lecturer in clinical practice Cheryl John, who organised and presented the ceremony, said: “These medical students completed their studies while working in the hospital and contributing to our Covid effort. We were unable to have the usual ceremony but it didn’t feel right that they simply got an email to tell them they are now a doctor, and we wanted to mark their achievements.
“We’re incredibly proud of all of them for graduating in truly unusual and challenging circumstances, and wish them every success as they prepare for the foundation programme.”
The graduation was held with support from Churchill Gowns, Trustmark Design and Print, Talbot Green, and Bridgend Balloons.