The Board of Trustees will meet Friday to vote on allowing Ohio State medical students who have already met graduation requirements to receive their degrees early so the students can start addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as health care workers. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Former Managing Editor for Design

Fifty-two fourth-year Ohio State medical students might be graduating almost a month early to enter the battle against COVID-19.

The Board of Trustees will hold a virtual meeting Friday to vote on allowing medical students who meet graduation requirements by Friday to receive their degrees April 12 rather than May 3 so the students can start addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as health care workers, according to the Board’s agenda. 

“The additional support from these volunteer medical students will be indispensable in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic,” James Rocco, interim dean of the College of Medicine, said in a university release. “It speaks to the culture of service at Ohio State that these students are ready to accept this early challenge and help their fellow health care workers on the front lines.”

Ohio State will join Harvard, Boston University, Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts, New York University and UCLA in offering early medical school graduation, according to Friday’s Board meeting agenda.

According to the agenda, 175 out of 184 fourth-year MD students met all graduation requirements by April 3. Fifty-two of those have declared intent to join the health care workforce and have requested an early graduation.

Some of those seniors have already been contacted by their residency locations in New York, Ohio, Texas, California and Minnesota asking if they can start early, according to the agenda.

According to the release, students who have matched their residencies with the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State could serve as physician extenders, assisting essential physicians in their duties dependent on the size of the COVID-19 surge. Essential physicians cannot be reassigned and are needed to provide care for outpatient, inpatient and consult services. 

“Some of our students have dreamed about being doctors their whole lives,” Jennifer McCallister, associate dean for medical education in the College of Medicine, said in the release. “This would allow them to provide a significant contribution and give them the opportunity to help when the medical world needs them the most.”

The Board will also vote on a resolution that would officially approve the pass/no pass grading system and the extended timeframe to take an incomplete grade passed by the University Senate March 26.

The Board will vote on the resolutions Friday afternoon. 

Click here to view our continuing coverage of COVID-19.