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Fauci Effect: Increase in Medical School Applications During Pandemic

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Healthcare workers have been front and center during the pandemic, taking care of sick patients and inspiring the next generation of doctors.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, medical school applications are up 18% this year. 

It’s a trend happening across the country, including at Des Moines University. Dr. Steven J. Halm, the dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at DMU, said their application numbers are up 19.2%. 

“Despite the challenges we’re facing with the pandemic, young people are recognizing an opportunity to help other people and serve through learning the skills of becoming a physician and pursuing a career in medicine,” Dr. Halm said.

The surge is being called the “Fauci Effect.” It’s due to the example Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical workers and public health figures are setting.

Dr. Halm said DMU typically sees 4,000 applications in a cycle, and there will be even more this year. The range to fill a class is between 205 and 221.

“We want to always ensure our enrollment and that we get the best applicants, the most competitive and highly qualified, compassionate applicants,” Dr. Halm said. “That increases the likelihood and helps us reach our mission of educating compassionate and high-quality physicians for the country.”

Much of DMU’s curriculum went remote due to the pandemic, and a lot of the application process is virtual too. Still, the school is determined to teach the next round of healthcare heroes.

“Boy if there’s anything good to come from the pandemic, I guess it would be the Fauci Effect,” Dr. Halm said. “It assures a good pipeline of physicians coming through the education system to meet the demands, the increasing demands of healthcare.”

Dr. Halm said third- and fourth-year students at DMU will soon work with the Polk County Department of Health to help distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

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