Medical faculties see surge in candidates, because of “Fauci impact”

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.

“You see the health care workers on TV, and it obviously takes a toll, but I think it just shows how important they are and the impact they have,” said Rahi Patel, junior at the University of Minnesota in pre-medicine 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 of 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.


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“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 on the Twin Cities campus are up 40% and on the Duluth campus by 77%, according to Dimple Patel. The application essays she reads mention the pandemic and health justice 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.

The care 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.


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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 has increased tremendously. And now we see a doctor, Fauci on a national level, and [Dr. Jeff] Pothof more on the spot, two doctors inspiring the next generation of young people to be part of the solution, “she told Channel 3000, a CBS partner in Madison.

The university’s medical school received 6,400 applications for 176 positions this year, said Dr. Sweeney.

More applicants don’t mean more doctors: Dr. Sweeney noted that the school can no longer accept students in the class. However, the added interest allows the school to really take into account applicants’ motivations, said Dr. Sweeney.