Ukrainian medical students arrive in Cambridge for clinical placements

The students are arriving from Kharkiv, where their training was interrupted by the war

20 Ukrainian medical students will begin clinical placements next week at hospitals around Cambridge, through a twinning partnership between the University of Cambridge and Kharkiv National Medical University.

The students from Kharkiv – which was attacked on the first day of the conflict and has seen fierce fighting – will continue their practical studies and learn vital skills at the University’s School of Clinical Medicine, and at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Royal Papworth Hospital and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

The seven-week, fully-funded programme will enhance the training the students have already received despite the conflict, help them progress in their further studies with Kharkiv National Medical University, and support Ukraine’s vital health service.

There will be no cost to students, with travel and living expenses funded by a donation from biotechnology company Illumina, and accommodation funded by an anonymous donor. Students will be staying at Homerton College.

Following the placements, the students will receive a learning portfolio to support their continuing medical training with Kharkiv National Medical University.

Students’ Mobility Coordinator at Kharkiv National Medical University, Daria Shliakhova, said “We have such an intense situation in Ukraine; we really need good doctors with good practical skills, who can help our people and save their lives. It’s a priority, to prepare and give our students all the best we can, and so the clinical placements in Cambridge are very important.”

She continued, “we would like to express our gratitude to Cambridge for supporting Kharkiv National Medical University and all Ukrainians.”

Like many of the students arriving, Serhii Alkhimov was involved in treating citizens after the invasion. As a Ukrainian man, he needed special permission to leave the country to take part in the programme. He spent four months living in an underground train station in Kharkiv with around a thousand others. He treated many ill people on his own, and was awarded a medal for his services by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Serhii Alkhimov (Image credits: University of Cambridge)

He said “I had military medical experience, so it wasn’t as hard for me as it might have been, but I didn’t get a lot of sleep. Most of the people I treated had chronic illnesses and couldn’t get help anywhere else. I was glad to help, and save two or three lives.”

Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, commented that this partnership “demonstrates the importance of international co-operation, and it shows Cambridge’s unwavering commitment to helping Ukraine’s higher education sector at this time of crisis.”

The medical placements are part of ‘Cambridge University Help for Ukraine’, a developing package of support announced by the University earlier this year.

Featured image credits: University of Cambridge