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New UMMS School of Medicine grads to news media: We’re ready to serve

Today Show, Boston Globe and Telegram among outlets reporting on early commencement

By Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

April 02, 2020
2020 SOM grads Kendra Lastowka, MD, and Taylor Shortsleeve, MD, talked to Al Roker of the Today Show. 

For years, Chancellor Michael F. Collins has stressed one fundamental message to all students: “It is privilege to care for our patients.” Now, for members of the School of Medicine Class of 2020, that honor has come sooner than expected and these new physicians are telling news media across the country that they are ready to serve.

“We knew that having the option to graduate early and use our privilege to help take care of people during this pandemic is definitely something we were excited to help with,” said Kendra Lastowka, MD, SOM ’20, in a remote interview with the Today Show’s Al Roker.

“It’s a nerve-racking that the early data suggests that health care workers can come down with more severe illness than the general public but, it’s a calling,” added Taylor Shortsleeve, MD, SOM ’20, in the live Today Show interview. “It’s a privilege to serve and I can say that I am combatting nervousness with a lot of excitement. It’s going to be an honor to serve with our mentors and faculty members who have taught us so well and prepared us for this.”

Chancellor Collins said students have been eager to help in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He hosted a virtual commencement ceremony on Tuesday, March 31, for 135 graduating medical students. The state is allowing them the option to start their careers early, offering provisional licenses so they can help fill the need for more health care providers in hospitals and clinics.

“’They said: We’re ready to help. How can we help?’ I found that very inspiring,” Collins told Boston Globe columnist Tom Farragher. “We teach our students to go toward their patients, not to run from them.’’

Read the full media stories below:
The Today Show: Medical students graduate early to join fight against coronavirus
Boston Globe: Newly minted doctors march toward frontlines battle virus
Worcester Telegram & Gazette: UMass Medical School in Worcester conducts first-ever virtual commencement
NBC Boston: Medical students to graduate early to help combat pandemic
Yahoo: Medical students graduate early
NECN: UMass Medical student graduate early to respond to coronavirus pandemic
WHDH: UMass Medical School holding virtual graduation ceremony for students joining fight against coronavirus
WGBH: To Help Counter Pandemic, Boston's Medical Schools Graduate Students Early
Good Morning America: I graduated early from medical school to help on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic