A newly-qualified doctor said he felt like an “imposter” on his first day, after graduating early to help with the coronavirus crisis.
Final-year medical students would normally qualify as doctors in July, but the date was fast-tracked to April.
About 220 students from Bristol University’s medical school missed overseas placements to join the NHS.
Fadi Al-Zubaidi, 23, said: “When I first started, I had big imposter syndrome.”
“It felt like I had swapped my student lanyard for an NHS one with a stethoscope.”
It was not compulsory for student doctors to sign up to join the NHS early but the vast majority from the Bristol cohort chose to do so.
Dr Al-Zubaidi worked in the gastro-intestinal ward of North Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.
His duties involved taking blood samples, booking scans and writing discharge notes for patients.
“I was worried existing doctors wouldn’t find me useful,” he said.
“But colleagues told me my presence meant they had time to follow things up more efficiently, or go home on time.
“It seemed to take the load off everyone.”
Megan Kelsey, 23, had a delayed start to her posting after her partner tested positive for Covid-19 and had to isolate for two weeks.
She then joined the orthopaedic ward of Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton, mid-April.
“I have spent two-and-a-half months here, helping people recover from operations and broken bones,” she said.
“I’m really proud of all the student doctors who stepped up when we were needed.”
She said her experience had reaffirmed her love of the NHS and that she felt “much better prepared” for her next role as a junior doctor in Liverpool.
Dr Al-Zubaidi believes other doctors should be given the chance to start work early in the NHS if they are able.
“I am moving to Sheffield and I know the patients there will receive a higher level of care because of what I have already learnt,” he said.
“Final-year medics are traditionally meant to do an overseas elective, but there is plenty to learn here at the NHS.”
Dr Al-Zubaidi was tested for coronavirus twice a week, but did not contract it.
“I feel proud of what my colleagues and I achieved,” he said.
“Coronavirus seemed to focus people’s minds and everyone from the porters to the nurses and consultants had a strong community spirit.”