A group of Ukrainian medical students have been taken in by one of the UK’s top universities to continue their education after fleeing their war-torn country.
The 20 students from the bombed Ukrainian city of Kharkiv will receive seven weeks of training at Cambridge University under the scheme.
Due to war and the COVID pandemic, most of their education over the past two years has been completed virtually.
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Despite this, after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, many of them were sent to hospitals to help treat patients.
One of them was Zaur Badalov, who is now participating in the university program.
Growing up in Kharkiv, the 22-year-old was forced to flee to western Ukraine after the outbreak of war, and it was there that he continued his education online, while working in a local hospital.
“I was in a hospital in Kharkiv on the day of the invasion. I was the first to notice that the windows were shaking and I woke up the others,” he said.
“We were all in shock, then that morning some injured people came to the hospital and needed help.”
After moving, the student of the Kharkiv National Medical University began to work in an emergency department.
“People just needed help from medics. So we did first aid every time, no matter if it was a civilian or soldiers,” he told Sky News .
As a man, Mr. Badalov needed special permission to leave Ukraine to continue his education.
“It’s a really good opportunity for us because we can take this information and share it with our university and our students,” he said.
Cambridge believes this is the first such scheme to support Ukrainian medical students in the UK.
Students will train at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Royal Papworth Hospital and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
As part of the course, they will shadow doctors on wards and in clinics and practice key skills, such as physical examination of patients.
Student traveled across Russia to get a place
While it is conventional for the university to welcome students from other countries, Dr Jonathan Fuld of Cambridge’s Department of Medicine said the group experienced “extraordinary” circumstances.
“They were scattered all over Europe, the men still in Ukraine by law, they needed support from Kharkiv to find ways to get their visas back,” he said.
“One of our students was actually in the occupied territories and made a trip through Russia in order to obtain a visa that allowed him to come and do this internship.
“So on our side there was quite a lot of administration. In the end, all the effort and the real challenge for this to happen fell on Kharkiv and the students.”
It is important for students to return to Ukraine, says clinic dean
Many Ukrainian hospitals and clinics have been destroyed or damaged due to the ongoing conflict.
In March, several people were killed after a the maternity hospital in Mariupol was reduced to ruins in a Russian airstrike.
As the students will spend nearly two months training in the UK, the clinical dean of the School of Clinical Medicine, Paul Wilkinson, said it was important for them to return to Ukraine.
“Ukrainian medical faculties do not want to lose students and doctors who will be essential for rebuilding health services in the country after the conflict,” he said.