Medical students who would have graduated this spring can start practicing medicine immediately in order to help mitigate New York’s coronavirus crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday.
“I will be signing an Executive Order to allow medical students who were slated to graduate this spring to begin practicing now,” Cuomo tweeted. “These are extraordinary times and New York needs the help.”
He’s right, and this is a great idea. Medical students who are weeks away from graduating already having everything they need to work as doctors except their diplomas. They should be able to put their skills and knowledge to use during this a public health crisis.
Combatting COVID-19 has meant doing away with countless regulations, restrictions, and credentialing systems that stood in the way of people getting the health care, equipment, food, and other vital supplies that they need. Some of these reforms (like letting students practice medicine) will probably be temporary, but we should think long and hard before reflexively restoring other policies once the crisis has passed. The pointless restrictions on gay and bisexual blood donors, the federal limits on mask manufacturers, the system of overcriminalization that crowds the jails—these are just a few of the bad ideas that should stay dead.
As New York calls upon medical students to help with the crisis, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the case of a former Michigan State University medical student who was expelled shortly before graduation, following a Kafkaesque sexual misconduct investigation and quasi-judicial trial. I presume the state of Michigan needs more doctors, too.