Medical School Applications Up 18% During Pandemic

Many medical school application essays reference the pandemic and issues related to health equity and social justice, according to one dean.

Medical School Applications Up 18% During Pandemic

Medical schools across the country have seen a significant increase in applicants during the coronavirus pandemic.

Compared to last year, medical school applications are up 18%, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Some have dubbed the increase the “Fauci effect,” referring to the visibility of science and medicine during the pandemic –specifically, as it relates to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“After 9/11, there was a huge increase in the number of young people going into the military,” Dr. Mary McSweeney, assistant dean of the medical school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Channel 3000. “And now, we see a physician, Fauci nationally, and [Dr. Jeff] Pothof more locally, two physicians who are inspiring the next generation of young people to come and be part of the solution.”

The university’s medical school has received 6,400 applications for 176 spots this year, Sweeney added.

At the University of California, Davis, medical school applications have increased by 40% with 10,000 students applying for 130 spots, reports CBS Sacramento. Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine has seen a 26% increase in the number of applicants this year compared to last year. Stanford University School of Medicine reported a 50% jump in the number of applications and Boston University School of Medicine reported a 27% jump, according to NPR.

Dimple Patel, an associate dean of admissions at the University of Minnesota’s Medical School, told CBS Minnesota that med school applications are up 44% at the Twin Cities campus and 77% at the Duluth campus. Patel also said many of the application essays have referenced the pandemic and issues related to health equity and social justice.

“I think [the pandemic] has also highlighted the inequity of access to healthcare and the inequity throughout our country,” said Dr. Eileen Doherty, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs with the University of Illinois College of Medicine. This year, the college received more than 6,000 applications — up from 3,900 last year.

The increase is also being attributed to lockdowns and quarantines giving more people the lengthy time needed to fill out applications. Nearly 10 million people have also lost their jobs during the pandemic, prompting some to pursue a higher-paying career, according to medical school deans.

In addition to medical schools, nursing programs are also reporting an increase in applications. At the University of Virginia, nursing school applications are up more than 25%. Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing has also seen a surge, according to News Channel 5.

“We’ve seen an 8% overall increase,” Linda Norma, the Dean of Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing said. “We were very worried that seeing all the faces of the nurses that were stress and all the PPE, was that going to deter people from wanting to come into nursing? But if applications are an early indicator, it’s made nursing really attractive as a career.”

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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