As COVID-19 cases surge, medical schools see increase in applications

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Posted at 6:17 AM, Dec 21, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Medical schools across the country say they've seen a sharp increase in applicants throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationwide, medical schools have received, on average, a 15% increase in applications this year. Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine is experiencing an even bigger spike.

"We have seen a 26% increase in our number of applicants this year compared to last year," Dr. Donald Brady, an Associate Dean at the school of medicine, said. "So we have about 7,500 applications for less than 100 spots in the medical school."

Brady said the increase in applications comes as the coronavirus is putting healthcare workers in the spotlight. Brady said a growing number of applicants expressed interest in the research side of the healthcare field, hoping to search for things like future vaccines.

"The pandemic has raised people's interest in public health," he said. "It's incredibly exciting in my opinion."

Brady said the increase is the largest he's seen, and applicants come from all different communities and backgrounds.

"To see people from broader and more diverse backgrounds wanting to come into the field that I've devoted my life to and to want to help others is incredibly gratifying," Brady continued.

It's not just medical schools seeing a spike in applicants. Vanderbilt's School of Nursing has seen a surge in interest during the pandemic, as well.

"We've seen an 8% overall increase," Linda Norma, the Dean of Vanderbilt's School of Nursing said. "We were very worried that seeing all the faces of the nurses that were stress and all the PPE, was that going to deter people from wanting to come into nursing? But if applications are an early indicator, it's made nursing really attractive as a career."

So administrators say the record number of applications is now a ray of hope coming out of a dark time.

"There's a lot of hope on the horizon," Brady said.