Medical schools see surge in applicants, thanks to "Fauci effect"
Applications to medical schools are on the rise as the coronavirus outbreak prompts young people to rethink healthcare professions.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, applications to medical schools nationwide were up 18% compared to the same period last year.
It has been referred to as the "Fauci Effect," with scientists predicting the increase on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute on Allergies and Infectious Diseases.
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"You see the health care workers on TV and it obviously takes a toll, but I think it just goes to show how important they are and the impact they have," said Rahi Patel, a junior medical student at the University of Minnesota Track said CBS Minnesota. "I've always wanted to be part of it."
In addition to the visibility of science and medicine, other factors play a role. The quarantine has given more people the considerable time it takes to fill out medical school applications. The economic toll from the pandemic, which has cost nearly 10 million people in their jobs, is also causing some to seek high-paying careers, deans of the medical school say.
"All of the many problems related to the pandemic have motivated young people to make career choices and apply for medical school," Dimple Patel, associate dean of admissions at the University of Minnesota Medical School, told CBS Minnesota. (She is not related to Rahi Patel, the college junior.)
Medical school applications are up 40% on the Twin Cities campus and 77% on the Duluth campus, according to Dimple Patel. The application essays she reads mention the pandemic and health equity and social justice issues, she said.
At the University of California at Davis, the medical school, applications are up 40%. A few months into the application season, around 10,000 students have applied for just 130 positions in the program, CBS Sacramento reported.
Nursing programs are also growing. The University of Virginia applications for its nursing programs have increased by more than a quarter, according to The Daily Progress.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison, like others, has a record number of applicants for medical schools. Dr. Mary McSweeney, assistant dean of the medical school, attributed the increase to a national sense of purpose.
"After 9/11, the number of young people joining the military increased tremendously. And now we see a doctor, Fauci on the national level, and [Dr. Jeff] Pothof on the ground, two doctors who are the next generation inspire young people to come and be part of the solution, "she told Channel 3000, a CBS partner in Madison.
The university's medical faculty received 6,400 applications for 176 positions this year, said Dr. Sweeney.
More applicants don't mean more doctors: Dr. Sweeney found that the school could no longer accept students in the class. However, the added interest allows the school to really take into account applicants' motivations, said Dr. Sweeney.
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