The more than 100 medical students who graduated virtually from the University of the Free State (UFS) Faculty of Health Sciences on Monday (14 December), graduated with a pass rate of 98% in a tumultuous year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MB ChB class of 2020 – a total of 104 students from the School of Clinical Medicine – graduated virtually on 14 December due to COVID-19. Another virtual graduation is scheduled for 4 January 2021.
An uncomfortable reality
Dr Lynette van der Merwe, undergraduate medical programme director in the School of Clinical Medicine at the UFS, congratulated the latest UFS doctors on their success. Said Dr Van der Merwe: “In a tumultuous year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of final-year medical students refused to give in to the pressure and disruption of national lockdown, emergency remote teaching, an adjusted academic calendar, and frontline exposure as healthcare professionals in training.”
“They persevered against all odds, faced up to an uncomfortable reality, and showed remarkable resilience.”
According to Dr Van der Merwe, the class of 2020 completed the gruelling five-year medical programme with a pass rate of 98,3%, impressing external examiners who commented on their respectful attitude towards patients and thorough knowledge and skill.
“The School of Clinical Medicine and Faculty of Health Sciences are immensely proud of our new colleagues and look forward to their contribution to the future of healthcare in South Africa. This achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering commitment of the academic and support staff who guided our students and led the way for them to achieve a life-long dream.”
“We look back with gratitude on a year that required more than the usual amount of adaptability, creativity, innovation, faith, patience, bravery, and endurance. It is these qualities that set apart the doctors who graduate from the UFS, and those who train them,” says Dr Van der Merwe.
Hope for the future
She says while COVID-19 is still a harsh reality and the future holds much uncertainty, 2020 has shown that there is hope when we face challenges with grace under pressure, and a firm belief in our goals and values. “Class of 2020, may you continue to rise above fear, chaos and disappointment, may you take heart and walk your journey with strength, may you bring healing to our people and lead us well.”
Drs Kaamilah Joosub and Lynette Upman, who also graduated on Monday, were awarded the prestigious Bongani Mayosi Medical Students Academic Prize – a national award which aims to recognise final-year medical students who epitomise the academic, legendary, and altruistic life of the late Prof Mayosi. The awards are presented to final-year MB ChB students from all South African medical faculties. This is the first year it has been awarded.