The online event was a success but the University is planning a full traditional graduation ceremony at a later date.    

Medical Imaging students graduate early online to support NHS in COVID-19

Medical Imaging students from the University of Exeter Medical School who opted to graduate early had an online ceremony to qualify as diagnostic radiographers during the COVID-19 crisis.

32 final year Medical Imaging students joined the online graduation, some even fashioned home-made mortarboards and gowns, to celebrate their graduation on the virtual platform with peers and lecturers.

By graduating early, students will be able to relieve pressure on other more experienced colleagues currently working in the fight against COVID-19, starting their jobs in health trusts months earlier than planned August start dates.

Final year Medical Imaging students who successfully completed all clinical elements of their programme were offered the opportunity to fast-track the final two months of their academic programme to graduate earlier. In order to facilitate early graduation for those who chose it, modifications were made to students’ remaining assessments and the key standards they had to achieve were mapped against their attainment in their programme so far. All Medical Imaging students were put onto the Health and Care Professions Council’s temporary COVID-19 register, which allowed them to practice and support the COVID-19 response before their online graduation.

Mother-of-three, Amy Joint, 33 from Taunton, said: “When we received the news that we could graduate early, I rose to the challenge, I had already been working at my local hospital and I felt ready to make the step up. Juggling the final exams at home was difficult with three children to look after, but I managed it. My children have been my driving force throughout my degree as I strive to inspire them and show them that anything is achievable if you work hard. It has been amazing to be welcomed into such a brilliant team at Musgrove Park hospital in such unprecedented times.”

Emily James, 26 from Swindon, is among those to graduate earlier and is already working on in the NHS. She said: “When I heard about the fast track graduation, I jumped on board. I already had a radiographer job lined up for after graduation at King’s College Hospital in London, so I contacted them and offered to start earlier, I want to help. My first ever X-ray as a qualified radiographer was on a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit whilst wearing full PPE.

“The reality of working frontline hit me hard, but I do feel that my time at Exeter prepared me really well for this transition. I’m already working at a really good level and my confidence grows every day. The team at the university have been really supportive in this extraordinary situation.”

The University is still planning a full traditional graduation ceremony at a later date.                                                                           

Dr Karen Knapp, head of Medical Imaging at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “We were aware that frontline services were going to need the new graduates sooner than planned.  We adapted the course to cover all the required assessments to fast-track students to graduation and it has worked really well. We’re so proud of all our students. Many of those who were unable to graduate are helping the COVID-19 effort in different ways.  We know our graduates will do a fantastic job on the frontline.  We’re providing ongoing support for them during their first year of work because we know they are going to be starting their careers during this unprecedented period.”

Date: 22 May 2020