BOSTON (CBS) — The four Massachusetts medical schools have agreed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s request to graduate medical students early to help fight the coronavirus, the schools announced Thursday. The schools include Boston University, Tufts University, Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts.”

“Anticipating a surge in the number of COVID-19 hospital patients, the deans of the four Massachusetts medical schools have agreed to the state’s request to move up the graduation dates of their fourth-year medical students, allowing them to join doctors on the frontlines of the pandemic up to eight weeks earlier than they would have been able to,” the schools wrote in a statement.

The students will graduate April 17 instead of May 17, the schools said. And if they choose to, they can begin working immediately in area hospitals. Approximately 700 students are eligible for early graduation.

“We will be prepared if the schools graduate early to provide 90-day provisional licenses through the Board of Registration of Medicine a one-page application,” said Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders during the governor’s daily coronavirus update.

She said the state would be ready to give “almost automatic” 90-day licenses to get more doctors working in the state.

As of Wednesday, the state had over 1,800 confirmed coronavirus cases, and the number of confirmed cases is expected to rise with more testing.

Sudders said this is part of a broader effort to remove barriers so that the state can have more doctors and nurses fighting the virus.

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