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Friends who helped in the COVID-19 vaccination drive speak of their pride at graduating with first-class honours

6 August 2021

Three Cardiff University intercalating medical students who have been part of the COVID-19 vaccination effort have celebrated together after graduating with first-class honours in their intercalated degrees.

Mass vaccination centres in the Welsh capital have been hives of activity since they opened in December. Many Cardiff University students have offered their skills to help since then.

Lily Scourfield, who recently completed her intercalated year in Pharmacology - an additional year between the 4th and 5th years of her medical degree – began working at the vaccination centres in March.

The 23-year-old from Llandaff said: “I got to meet amazing people and most importantly I enjoyed being part of such a great team. It was good to get this experience in clinical work and patient communication. I worked on the wards during the first wave so was looking for a change in role for variety.”

She added: “Additionally, there was a sense of obligation. Wherever possible, I was keen to use my skills to help return society to some sense of normality.”

Her housemate, Joanna Hawkins, from Dorset, completed an intercalated year in Physiology while helping out at the vaccination centres.

“Generally, everyone was very positive and grateful for the work we were doing and the vaccine itself,” said Joanna, aged 24. “However, understandably, there were people who were nervous and needed more reassurance and, also, people who had questions they wanted answering before they consented.

“I’m so grateful to be entering into a profession which has such a great sense of team-work,” she added. “The pandemic has given me a huge appreciation and respect for all of the work that the different roles do within a hospital team. This is a quality that I believe will be invaluable when I begin my work as a junior doctor.”

Natasha Jones, 23, originally from Bristol, is graduating after an intercalated year studying Medical Education.

“I enjoyed chatting to retired doctors or nurses coming back to help out as they had so many interesting stories and past experience to learn from,” she said. “It was inspiring seeing how many people had answered the call to get involved.”

With in-person graduations replaced by virtual graduations this year, all three friends met with fellow students at City Hall Lawns, hiring caps and gowns for their own celebration.

‘I’m proud to have been part of the Welsh NHS during this challenging time,' said Joanna 'Despite the challenges I hope it will help us all to be better doctors in the future.’