Medical Schools See ‘Unprecedented’ Increase In Applicants

Medical Schools See ‘Unprecedented’ Increase In Applicants

And that may have influenced some people to want to be nurses so they can make an impact, he said.

The University of South Carolina College of Nursing saw an increase in applications of 10 percent over 2020, said Dr. Karen Worthy, assistant dean for undergraduate studies.

“Looking at 2021 enrollment, that number has definitely increased because people have a desire to make a difference during the life-changing situation of a pandemic,” she said.

“The media has brought to light just how important all health care providers are, but especially how important nurses are. (Students) saw an increase in … workers’ personal accounts, which increased their interest in nursing,” she said. “We are on the front lines of providing care … and that increased visibility has opened potential applicants’ eyes to what it means. They want a career they love, where they are able to help and care for others, especially during the pandemic, and nurses have been held as heroes.”

Enrollment at the University of South Carolina Upstate Mary Black School of Nursing is up as well, but just by 1 percent, said instructor Lindsay Grainger.

“The younger generation is seeing … problems and wants to make the world a better place,” she said. “And a lot of students have been impacted. They’ve been alongside somebody as they had to access health care in the past year, which also motivates people to enter nursing.”

While applications are fairly consistent with previous years at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, according to Dr. Julie M. Linton, assistant dean for admissions and clinical associate professor of pediatrics, she said she expects that to change.

“I don’t know that we’ll see the Fauci Effect this admission cycle,” she said. “A medical school application takes a lot of preparation. I expect we will see a dramatic increase between this year and next year.”

However, she said that many students further confirmed their decision to apply to medical school because of the pandemic.

Linton added that there’s been an increase in the number of applicants who’ve experienced adversity, with those who qualify for financial assistance nearly doubling.

“We have a significant percentage whose parents lost their employment during the pandemic who were sharing some of their own earnings to support their families while trying to apply for medical school,” she said. “And a number of applicants who’ve lost family members to Covid during the pandemic. Many of these students have been so inspiring.”

The number of applicants from underrepresented minorities also increased, she said.

AAMC also reported growth in the number of applications from students in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups – up more than 18 percent overall nationally.

While the increase in interest in both health professions is good news, the bad news is that medical and nursing schools generally can’t take any more students, even as the country is embroiled in a lingering shortage of doctors and nurses.

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