“I think we are getting back to the roots of why people want to do medicine,” said UNM Medical Interim Dean Martha McGrew. Medical schools around the country are reporting a 17% increase in applicants according to national reports.
Here in New Mexico, UNM is seeing a 7% increase this year that’s over a dozen more applicants. “I think it is inspiring to see people answer that call of serving other people,” said McGrew.
There’s a theory floating around that COVID-19 is bringing one positive to the front line, the next generation. It’s being called “the Fauci Effect,” named after the country’s leading infectious disease expert.
“Dr. Fauci has been an incredible role model because throughout this he has remained steady and sure and safe and foundational,” said McGrew. She believes that these students living through their first pandemic are most likely inspired by healthcare workers in their communities.
“I don’t know so much that it’s following in our footsteps as much as it is this incredible commitment to serve our communities,” said McGrew.
For UNM that inspiration is coming from local New Mexicans and the Navajo Nation. “At UNM we only take medical students from New Mexico and federally designated American Indian lands,” said McGrew.
While the increase is exciting, it doesn’t mean class sizes will grow at UNM, it just ups the competition. UNM only takes about 100 students per year into their medical program.
McGrew hopes the interest will continue for the next few years even if students don’t get accepted this year. “For anybody who has been of an age where they are aware of what’s going on know this is going to affect everybody for years to come,” said McGrew. UNM’s nursing program is also seeing an increase in applications with 13% more for Spring 2021.
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