September 23, 2020 -- Medical schools are seeing a record number of applications this year as prospective students express more interest in becoming doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Applications were up 17% by August as compared with 2019, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which conducts medical school exams. Applications have increased slightly during the past few years, but they haven’t reached double digits before now, according to MedPage Today.
COVID-19 has put the spotlight on multiple health professions, which may be prompting people to apply to medical school.
“The pandemic has made students aware of the needs we have in health care in this country,” Stephen Spann, the founding dean of the new college of medicine at the University of Houston, told the newspaper.
The college received 2,000 applications for 30 spots in its inaugural class, which started virtually this fall. More than 4,000 applications have already come in for next fall’s class.
In addition, this year’s requirements are less strict, with many schools dropping Medical College Admission Test scores. Stanford University, for instance, waived MCAT requirements after pandemic restrictions closed testing sites. The medical school has received 50% more applications this year, and most applicants submitted MCAT scores.
“It was uncertain whether the administration of the MCAT could be safely and equitably done for all applicants,” Iris Gibbs, associate dean of Stanford’s medical school, told the newspaper.
Other medical schools pushed application schedules later into the year, with final deadlines still coming in October and November.
“There’s a trend towards students and people thinking about this earlier, a trend towards more students looking to a career in medicine,” Sahil Mehta, who runs MedSchoolCoach, told MedPage Today.
Mehta and other medical school consultants have noticed an increase in interest in fields related to the pandemic, such as infectious diseases, public health and epidemiology.
“At home, you feel a little hopeless,” Christina Lucas, a Wyoming resident who wants to become a rural doctor, told The Wall Street Journal. “It just completely confirmed my commitment to medicine.”