Almost every graduating doctor this year is to be offered an internship in a bid to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has pledged.
For the first time, more than 1,000 internships are to be offered to this year’s medical students as they graduate, according to Mr Varadkar.
He was speaking as part of a video address to medical students at University College Cork (UCC), whose graduation was brought forward to assist the health service.
It was the first online conferring of medical students to be held in the 175 year history of the university. “I know we are living in strange times,” Mr Varadkar told students. “You are graduating early and you won’t be able to celebrate with your friends and your families, as I know you would like to. There will be a time for that in the months ahead, when we develop new treatments, a vaccine, more effective contact testing and tracing regime. In the meantime, we need you to graduate early.”
“Those of you who come from overseas, we’d love you to stay to work in our health service for the next year and to build your career in Ireland. I think in the past we haven’t been as fair to doctors from overseas as we should have been. That is something we want to change into the future.”
Mr Varadkar also said that he hopes Irish doctors will seek to build their career here as the country works to build a better healthcare service in the aftermath of the pandemic.
UCC understands that the online ceremony will not fully replace being on-campus in person, UCC president Professor Patrick O’Shea told students.“Your resilience and adaptability in responding to Covid-19 is genuinely remarkable and has no doubt prepared you for the challenges and rewards of the career path you have chosen."
Professor Helen Whelton, head of the College of Medicine and Health, UCC, and chief academic officer to the HSE, said the medical profession worldwide has been lauded for its commitment and resilience in responding to the pandemic.
"My colleagues and I, as university and professional representatives, are truly honoured to be with you virtually to celebrate your graduation from student to medical doctor. It is a true testament to your character and resolve to have excelled during these unprecedented times. The entire university is proud of you and supports you.”