COVID-19 Graduation

Press statement

Shetland Caps Six New Doctors in Special Covid-19 Graduation

April 17

Six University of Aberdeen medical students will graduate as doctors in a special virtual ceremony in the Gilbert Bain Hospital today (April 17, 3pm). This is after they could not return to Aberdeen for their real graduation (which has been cancelled) due to coronavirus.

The ceremony will take place in the hospital’s canteen with just a few members of staff present but it will be livestreamed on Facebook through NHS Shetland Chief Executive Michael Dickson’s Facebook page (Michael Dickson NHS). To watch you do not have to “friend” Mr Dickson but simply visit his page at 3pm. The event will be recorded and available to watch afterwards.

Dr Pauline Wilson, Director of Medical Education for NHS Shetland, said the junior doctors had arrived in the isles at the beginning of March for the final eight weeks of their medical training ahead of their graduation and a month’s holiday before commencing work.

What came afterwards no-one expected.

“They have hit the deck running facing the biggest health emergency the world has ever seen. What is so incredible is that they have all volunteered to sacrifice their holiday, which after years of study is well earned, to stay on and serve the Shetland community until this is over.” The new doctors will now only leave the Northern Isles in August.

Mr Dickson said that while the doctors had lost out on a milestone event, the Shetland community would ensure they would have a graduation that would be a highlight of their lives.

“From all of us we wish them well in their careers and thank them for so quickly stepping up to help a community in need during a very difficult time,” he said.

The doctor’s real graduation ceremony would have taken place at the University of Aberdeen in July with their parents present.  Instead the university will graduate them tomorrow in absentia.

For their island graduation they will be led into the hospital canteen to the strains of Gaudeamus igitur. After the introductions they will be capped (in a uniquely Shetland way) and recite the Hippocratic Oath with their families watching the livestream.

Social distancing means that even their colleagues won’t all be able to witness the event in person but can follow the broadcast. They will be on hand to applaud them though when they leave the canteen. In the new graduates’ honour staff in the Gilbert Bain Hospital will all wear the scrubs made over the last few weeks by the local community to help ease pressure on hospital garb during the coronavirus emergency.


The six junior doctors are:

Bianca-Rose Low

Alisdair Phillips

Ellen Parkinson

Calum McCoss

Lucy Buchanan

Samuel Nixon