Medical schools see spike in students inspired to apply by the pandemic – KBJR 6

DULUTH, MN -- While many are being asked to stay home because of the pandemic, others are headed to the front lines.

Medical schools across the country have seen a huge spike in applicants, including in Duluth.

Applications for the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus increased 77 percent this year.

3,422 people applied for the Duluth campus program, which can take 65 in this cohort.

At the University of Minnesota Medical School's Twin Cities campus, applications went up by 40 percent.

With the added attention on healthcare workers during the pandemic, some are calling this increase the Fauci Effect," in reference to infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Kendra Nordgren, Assistant Dean for Admissions at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus said the pandemic has created an opportunity for people to pivot from their former career to the medical field.

"Seeing physicians and health care workers is showing them the connection that they can have to community and patients in a way they aren't experiencing in whatever trajectory they're currently on," Nordgren said.

Shane Johannsen first applied to medical school two years ago but did not get accepted. He is currently a medical assistant and EMT.

Johannsen works closely with COVID-19 patients and sees the need caused by the pandemic.

"This is the time to do it," Johannsen said. "This is what I want to do, and I want to become a doctor."

Johannsen decided to reapply to medical school and, weeks ago, found out he had been accepted to the 2021 program.

Johannsen said he is not the only one applying.

"They see all over the media. They say, 'Hey, we need doctors, we need nurses, we need physicians' assistants, we need all these different aspects.' It really just lets people know this is the time to do it. This is when we need it the most," he said.

Nordgren said the attention on healthcare workers is also encouraging non-traditional students to apply.

"Seeing the work that's being put out there and recognized is helping drive this influx," she said.

While being on the frontlines is difficult work, Johannsen is ready to answer the call.

"This is where I belong," he said. "This is what I want to do, and I think a lot of people feel the same way."

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Medical schools see spike in students inspired to apply by the pandemic - KBJR 6

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