Becoming a doctor takes years of dedication, studying and on-the-wards training. But for this year’s cohort of 293 newly qualified doctors, currently enjoying their virtual graduation events, their final years as students were massively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Some 56 of the students were based at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Dr Diva Abdullah enjoyed a virtual graduation on Friday with her classmates from the University of Glasgow. It followed a separate ceremony where the newly qualified doctors recently took the Hippocratic oath from a lecture theatre. The 24-year-old from Brunei has been in Scotland for 3 years and working at hospitals across the country as part of her training.
“When the pandemic hit we were still 4th year students and all of a sudden we had to cancel our placements and there was a lot of uncertainty for everyone. We were out of the hospital for four-and-a-half months and into online learning.”
When the students were allowed back in clinical settings, they worked hard to catch up on the more practical elements of their studies.
Diva was posted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary’s Emergency Department, just as the second wave of COVID took hold.
She added: “We saw a lot of COVID patients coming in. I was in the department one day and there were about eight acute patients there presenting with shortness of breath, and that was quite a lot. However, I felt incredibly supported by the team and we worked hard to help people.”
One of the hardest things for Diva arriving in Glasgow was trying to understand the accent. “I was in a GP’s practice and I volunteered to take notes and I had no idea what was going on – but it quickly got better,” she added.
Diva is now moving to Aberdeen to do her foundation year as a newly qualified doctor. Eventually, she hopes to specialise in paediatrics, working in a children’s hospital. “I just want to help people, I like being able to make a difference to someone’s life,” she said.
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Hospital Sub Dean at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Miss Jane Madeley, said: They were part way through their penultimate year of training when COVID-19 impacted training.
“In comparison to last year's graduates, who had completed enough of the course by March 2020 to be able to move forward and graduate, this year's final year students were midway thought the clinical stage of training which consists of different placements in the hospital and GP setting where they learn the principles of medicine and surgery as well as other specialties. They were initially withdrawn from the hospitals in March 2020 and teaching moved on-line, whilst planning for them to be able to return was undertaken.
“This must have been a very difficult period, with the stress of uncertainty, isolation from peers that the lock-down enforced, and some returning overseas, with others remaining in Glasgow but unable to see family and friends.”
Jane thanked the staff at GRI for their support for the student and added: “We are extremely proud of all they have achieved and wish them every success in the future. We are sure a group able to flourish during this testing period will achieve amazing things moving forwards and we look forward to welcoming them as colleagues.”
Diva has enjoyed being a part of the NHS throughout a year like no other. She concluded: “Teamwork is what makes the NHS work, it feels like a small family where everyone is looking out for each other and their patients. That’s what is so important.”