COVID-19 inspiring big increase in nursing, medical school applications

Updated: Dec. 24, 2020 at 1:20 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - COVID-19 has thrust healthcare workers into the spotlight, inspiring more students to pursue careers in the medical field.

“The pandemic has put physicians at the forefront,” Steven Berk, dean of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, said. “In fact, the increase in students going into medicine, I saw it called the Fauci Effect.”

HSC’s School of Medicine has seen a 25% increase in applications. Nationally, that increase averages 17%, according to the Association of American Medical Schools.

They’re also seeing more application at HSC’s School of Nursing. Lauren Sullivan, the managing director for the nursing school’s Office of Admissions and Student Affairs, said.

“In 2019, we had a little over 400 applications for that program,” Sullivan said. “In 2020, we had over 900.”

The increase is mainly from people who want a nursing degree on top of an existing degree. Administrators believe this increase is a response to the increased focused on healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We thought, this is the time where our numbers are either going to skyrocket because people are going to see the need for healthcare providers or they are going to be turned away,” Sullivan said.

For the nursing school, an increase in applicants may also mean an increase in open spots. The school can accept more students if it adds on more faculty, Sullivan said.

But for the medical school, it’s different. The number of people accepted into the program will not increase.

However, the nursing school has seen a decrease in its graduate program because of the number of working nurses.

“Simply because those are the nurses who are working right now during the pandemic,” Sullivan said.

The need for more healthcare workers will also last beyond the pandemic. There was already a shortage of nurses and physicians years before this.

“The medical field will always, always desperately need doctors, nurses and other health professionals,” Berk said.

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