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SUNY Downstate’s First Ever “Virtual Commencement” to Confer Diplomas to 37 Early

Early Graduation Answers Governor Cuomo’s Call for New Physicians to Begin Working Immediately during the Pandemic

Brooklyn, N.Y. (April 28, 2020) – With the ongoing concern about the spread of COVID-19 and with the State of New York still on pause and continuing social distancing precautions, SUNY Downstate will celebrate the early graduation of 37 College of Medicine students with a “Virtual Commencement” ceremony that will be live-streamed on Friday, May 1 at 3:00 PM.

An additional 158 College of Medicine graduates, along with more than 500 graduates from SUNY Downstate’s College of Nursing, School of Public Health, School of Health Professions, and the School of Graduate Studies, will have the opportunity to participate in a similar virtual commencement on May 20, 2020.

“Having worked hard to become physicians, we understand the disappointment our graduates must feel not being able to celebrate this important milestone traditionally with family, friends, and classmates and the walk across the stage,” said SUNY Downstate President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “Our hope is that this virtual commencement, including the traditional reading of the Hippocratic Oath, will bring some of the pomp and circumstance of commencement to our graduates.”

On April 4, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order allowing medical students who had completed their requirements to graduate early in order to bolster the state’s physician workforce.

Along with their families, graduates from all five schools will be invited to return to participate in SUNY Downstate’s in-person Commencement ceremonies in May of 2021, where they will be able to march in procession and be hooded on stage.

SUNY Downstate College of Medicine is the largest medical school in the City of New York, second largest in the State of New York and among the 25 largest medical school by enrollment in the United States.  There are more SUNY Downstate College of Medicine graduates practicing medicine in both New York City and New York State than from any other medical school in the country.

In all, 124 College of Medicine graduates, or 65 percent, will begin their residencies at a New York State institution, including 22 at SUNY Downstate.  A total of 83 students—43 percent of the class—matched with a hospital in New York City, and another 38 graduates—or 16 percent—will remain in the New York City metropolitan area, including Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.

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