More people are applying to medical school at Michigan State and around the nation

Is it the ‘Fauci Effect’ or a result of the pandemic itself?
There are roughly 100 third and fourth-year Michigan State University medical students in...
There are roughly 100 third and fourth-year Michigan State University medical students in rotation at Flint area hospitals.(ABC12)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:15 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Reports of staffing shortages and concerns over safety have been at the forefront for health care workers on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic.

But as COVID fatigue settles in for some, there’s a freshness about the industry for others.

Nearly 100 third and fourth-year Michigan State University College of Human Medicine students are in rotations at Flint-area hospitals. The Flint campus is a vital part of the university’s public health program.

“This year we took over a 28% jump in applications this year as compared to last year’s,” said Dr. Joel Maurer.

Maurer, who is the assistant dean of admissions for the medical school, said there were about 8,800 to 8,900 applicants a year ago. This year, they are just shy of 11,500.

It’s the same story nationwide. The Association of American Medical Colleges says the number of applicants is up a record 18% over the last year.

“I think we’re seeing a number of applicants maybe applying earlier than what they normally would because of the uncertainty of the pandemic,” Maurer said.

Some admissions professionals credit Dr. Anthony Fauci for being an example and role model for doctor hopefuls, inspiring them to enter the field of medicine.

“I think when you get right down to it the Fauci effect is the idea of this pandemic and how public health and medicine are so intertwined together and has allowed potential future physicians to see health care through a lens that they didn’t realize existed before,” Maurer said.

He said that people are more open in their applications about wanting to dedicate their career to serving marginalized communities and eradicate health care disparities in underserved populations.

“What we’re finding is that our applicant pool is even stronger than what it’s been in the past year,” Maurer said.

With more applicants, the field is more competitive. MSU usually has 190 incoming first-year medical students. Historically, about 500 to 550 are interviewed.

MSU is also seeing an increase in applications for the colleges of Nursing and Osteopathic Medicine.

Despite the big increase in applicants, Maurer said they’re still not seeing more racial diversity in the pool.

“I think that’s been eye opening to me and tells me that we need to do a better job to reaching out to communities of color to welcome them to the circle of health care delivery and leadership,” he said.

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