BOSTON (CBS) – Medical students from some of the top schools across the state will graduate early and could immediately be thrust into action in the fight against COVID-19.

It’s an unprecedented timeline for fourth year students. “It’s scary to think a week ago we were matched, and then six days after told we might become physicians,” said UMass Medical School student Shruthi Srinivas.

The call came from Governor Baker that the front lines of health care might need reinforcement if there’s a surge in coronavirus patients, and they’re ready to volunteer. “I’ve trained my whole life to become a doctor,” said UMass Medical School student Patrick Lowe. “It’s exciting to be graduating into the workforce, but at the same time a terrifying moment to be entering into medicine.”

They are entering in the midst of a global pandemic. They’ll graduate next week, not in the traditional way, then be allowed to apply for expedited 90 day licenses to get right to work.

“The students will be put into safe conditions working closely together with more senior colleagues to serve patients as needed,” said Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins.

Their residencies would have begun in July with their coursework now complete. But there’s been little time to celebrate the closing of one chapter and no time to process some of the nerves.

“You feel ready and then you balance it asking is it safe, are there enough supplies to be able to do the job well as much as I’ve been trained,” said UMass Medical School student Lauren Colwell.

Helping people, they say, is why they came to medical school and especially now they want to make a contribution. “In many years we’ll look back and be proud that we were part of a community and hospital system that was able to get the country and the world through this,” said Shruthi Srinivas.

Boston University and Tufts University medical schools will also hold early graduations for a potential of 700 new doctors.

Beth Germano

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