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South Florida Medical Schools Say Influx Of Applicants Is Due, In Part, To The "Fauci Effect"

In this March 18, 2021 file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing.
In this March 18, 2021 file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing.

South Florida medical schools are seeing an influx of applications as a result of the pandemic. This is all part of what some are calling “The Fauci Effect.”

For this upcoming school year, Florida Atlantic University’s medical school received more than 6,000 applications for 66 spots.

“A lot of students or people who are just starting their careers, may have had time off. They may have lost other jobs and it may have been a time where going back to school made more sense than being in the job market,” said Dr. Sarah Wood, the senior associate dean for FAU’s College of Medicine.

Wood says at times of uncertainty people seek job security.

“I think the idea of watching the crisis unfold and people in need and the front line health care workers featured in the media has really inspired a new generation of future doctors. People are calling it the 'Fauci Effect,'” Wood said, describing the field seeing heightened interest due to the public profile of Dr. Anthony Fauci — the nation's leading infectious disease expert.

Cristina Arabatzis, director of admissions and recruitment for Florida International University’s College of Medicine, says the university saw a 53% increase in applicants compared to applications before the pandemic.

"To apply to medical school, it takes years, sometimes years of coursework. It's not a light switch,” said Arabatzis, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic played an indirect role in the increase of applications. "Any time that the economy is down, or unemployment levels are high, there tends to be an increase in applications to graduate and professional programs."

Wood says they expect the trend to continue as long, as the admissions process remains virtual.

Meanwhile, the Association of American Medical Colleges says the United States will need about 133,000 more doctors by 2033.