DENVER — Medical schools around the country have seen a surge in applications this year, that some have dubbed the “Fauci effect,” after the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
But while the pandemic may be raising interest in science and medicine, admissions officials in Colorado believe there’s more behind the phenomenon.
“Since the pandemic didn’t really start in earnest here in the U.S. until March, I’d be a little bit surprised if the entire effect (on applications) is due to the pandemic,” said Jeff SooHoo, assistant Dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The University of Colorado has seen a total of 14,092 applications for 184 spots in their next class. That’s a 35% increase in applications over last year.
SooHoo pointed out that applying to medical school is a lengthy and expensive process. Still he credited the pandemic with raising the profile of physicians and other health care workers, and showing people how health care touches so many of lives.
CU Boulder graduate Katie Franks, who has been accepted to medical school for the fall of 2021, said initially she was going to wait another year before applying to medical school. But the pandemic raised the urgency for her to begin her career.
“We’re seeing all of these nurses, doctors, health care workers in the trenches saving lives. We see that and want to be part of it,” said Franks.
She also saw an opportunity to save money during the pandemic, since medical school interviews have been conducted online. The interview process can typically cost $4-$5 thousand in travel expenses.
Beyond medicine, the pandemic seems to be encouraging people to pursue a range of public service career paths. The University of Colorado School of Law has seen an unprecedented 61% increase in applications over last year. Assistant dean of admissions Kristine Jackson credited the social justice movements of 2020.
“People are interested in civic justice, public justice and those are hallmarks of our Colorado law school program,” said Jackson.
The University of Colorado College of Nursing also reported a 4% increase in applications this year for the undergraduate nursing program. The School of Dental Medicine reported an 8% increase in completed applications during the pandemic.
Franks urges those looking into a career in medicine to be prepared for the hard work ahead.
“We need people whose hearts are in medicine,” she said.