Warriors Women’s Elisha Whelan is set to join the frontline of the NHS to help with the developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Whelan, 24, is in her final year of a Medicine and Surgery MBChB at the University of Birmingham and will be one of more than 5,000 medical students dispatched to hospitals and surgeries across the country.
Becoming a doctor has always been the wing’s dream, but she never imagined the final stages of her course would be in these circumstances.
“I was supposed to be sitting my final exams at the end of April prior to registering with the General Medical Council with a view to working as a junior doctor from August onwards,” she said.
“Because of everything that has happened, our placement has been cancelled and our exams have been brought forward. I’m sitting my finals remotely in about a week and the whole idea behind that is so that we can be drafted into work earlier.
“We are unsure of what this means for our medical school, but final year students who have graduated will be offered the opportunity to volunteer to take up an early junior doctor post.
“This will be with additional support and supervision and will involve working in hospitals during the crisis.
“If we are needed, will be a unique opportunity to contribute to healthcare during the crisis, whilst developing our skills and experience professionally.”
On hearing Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement that she would be drafted in to help during the global pandemic, Whelan said: “It’s overwhelming and scary to know that you will be thrown in at the deep end, but I think we will learn really quickly on the job and I’m excited to get to work and help instead of sitting at home reading books.
“It’s what we’ve been preparing for in the last five years and we all want to get out there and help – we’ll be the first cohort of junior doctors that have been drafted in for something like this.
“I first applied for medicine because I was always good at biology at school and I had the grades to pursue a medical career. I never saw myself working behind a desk as I’m a people person and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Like so many across the UK, Whelan stood on her doorstep to applaud the efforts of the NHS and care workers in treating those affected by COVID-19. The initiative was devised by Annemarie Plas from Brixton, south-west London, who was inspired by the same event happening in her home country of the Netherlands.
Whelan said: “At the moment I’m living with my friend and we stood outside to pay tribute to the work of the NHS and it was very moving.
“I think people are really appreciating what the NHS does for us and it has made everyone realise how important it is. It’s a terrible thing which is happening, but I know it’s bringing communities closer together.”