WARRIORS Women star Elisha Whelan will swap the try line for the frontline in the fight against the COVID-19 virus when she joins more than 5,000 medical students dispatched to hospitals and surgeries across the country.
The 24-year-old rugby ace is in her final year of a Medicine and Surgery MBChB at the University of Birmingham but will be fast-tracked into life on the frontline to aid the NHS in the battle to contain the Coronavirus.
Elisha’s move will cap a whirlwind three months which has seen Warriors Women end their Tyrell’s Premier 15 campaign because of the crisis and her final exams, due at the end of this month, brought forward.
She will sit her finals next week and subject to being registered with the General Medical Council she will begin work as a junior doctor as health chiefs seek to keep the NHS going in the face of the biggest health challenge this century.
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.
“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,” she said.
“This will be with additional support and supervision and will involve working in hospitals during the crisis.
Elisha described Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s decision to draft students onto the frontline to help during the global pandemic as ‘overwhelming and scary to be thrown in at the deep end’.
“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,” she said.
“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.
Like so many across Worcester, Whelan stood on her doorstep to applaud the efforts of the NHS and care workers in treating those affected by COVID-19.
The Clap for Our Carers idea 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.
“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,” Elisha said.
“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.”