'Fauci effect' linked to surge in medical school applications

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At Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine, applications are up 50 percent, and at Boston University School of Medicine they're up 27 percent — a surge that admissions officers are calling the "Fauci effect," NPR reports.

"That, I think, may have a lot to do with the fact that people look at Anthony Fauci, look at the doctors in their community and say, 'You know, that is amazing. This is a way for me to make a difference,'" Kristen Goodell, MD, associate dean of admissions at BU School of Medicine, told NPR. 

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NPR he's flattered by the connection, but that "a more realistic assessment is … the effect of a physician who is trying to and hopefully succeeding in having an important impact on an individual's life, as well as on global health. So if it works to get more young individuals into medical school, go ahead and use my name. Be my guest."

Amid the pandemic, people have more time on their hands, another factor that may be contributing to the recent surge in applications, according to admissions officials. Some people may have post-graduate plans that fell through and have more time to complete the comprehensive medical school application process.

The jump in applications indicate good news at a time when experts are predicting a U.S. physician shortage, according to NPR. 

"Everyone feels some sort of responsibility," said Mary Grace Kelley, who is applying to medical schools this year. "There's definitely a call to arms thinking that, if there's another pandemic, it'll be up to us." 

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